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first lady

‘First, Be a Lady:’ The Impact of FLOTUS on American Politics

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Political scientists have failed to recognize the political importance of the president’s spouse. While the evolving role of the first lady over time from White House hostess to presidential advisor has been documented in historical narratives and news articles, the tremendous responsibility placed on her office to communicate the president’s message and shape his public image has received little attention according to Lauren A. Wright, Ph.D. in her book ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today. This responsibility has increased markedly in the last three presidential administrations, illustrated by the fact that Michelle Obama made more speeches and major public appearances in her first six years in office than any first lady in history.…

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Picturing Hope: White House Photographer Pete Souza’s ‘Intimate Portrait’ of President Obama

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“They called him analytical and cerebral. But the lasting impression of Barack Obama’s presidency is deeply human and emotional. This is his legacy.” ~ Scott Snowman, January 18, 2017 in The Prompt White House photographers are not just taking pictures; they are documenting history and preserving a legacy.  Whatever your political views, there is one thing that will not change about the Barack Obama presidency: he was the nation’s first African American elected to the highest office in the land.  This was a hard-won feat that many, particularly those who grew up during the era of Jim Crow, never believed would see accomplished in their lifetime. But it did and everything else that followed was equally historic. Now, a year…

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Who’s Whispering Sweet Nothings in the President’s Ear?

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In Dr. Lauren A. Wright’s latest book, On Behalf of the President: Presidential Spouses and White House Communications Strategy Today (Praeger, April 18, 2016), she argues that first ladies are far more than a decorative political spouse, but rather an essential team player who is mobilized to enhance the public reputation of a presidential candidate and their policy agenda and, according to her data, they make a profound influence on public opinion. No first lady better typifies this than Michelle Obama who made more speeches and public appearances in her first six years than any other presidential spouse in history. The book also documents the growing presence of the presidents’ wives in the communications strategies of the last three administrations (Clinton, Bush…

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Review: ‘Lady Bird and Lyndon’ Reveals the Demure Powerhouse Behind a President

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In the annals of Washington D.C. power couples, Lyndon Baines Johnson and his wife Lady Bird rarely make the top of the list. He’s often seen as the bombastic, abrasive cowboy, showing off his appendectomy scar to reporters and riding roughshod over his presidency by sheer force of will, while Lady Bird is usually considered to be the nice woman who made sure our highways had wildflowers growing beside them. That assessment, however, is a gross misrepresentation, according to author Betty Boyd Caroli. In her absorbing new book Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage that Made a President (Simon & Schuster; October 27, 2015), Caroli delves deep into the complex and compelling relationship between Lady Bird…

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