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On Behalf of the President

‘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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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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