Baby Boomers '52

Born a third the way into the 18-year Boom

we 1952-ers travel just ahead of the crest of the wave . . .

. . . we're the froth.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Wanted To Like Jim Schroeder

I had lost interest in Jim Schroeder as the Political Spouse I wanted to sit by well before he started in on how Pat helped him get a job through Hillary Clinton's staff which was different than helping him get the job. That would be Pat, as in the former congresswoman from Denver that gave James Schroeder the credentials to publish Confessions of a Political Spouse.

Early on in the book I suspected Jim and I shared few if any confessions. He served at higher rank. He was national. The way that works is, the farther away the elected office is from its constituents, the higher the rank of the politician. I'm married local.

His feminist credentials were a bit cloying as well. I regret that about myself. It's sexist, right? To distrust a male spouting feminism. I struggle with guilt about this. Jim Schroeder did confess to male chauvinistic behavior in high school when he "dated his fair share of bimbos." He itemized a couple. He used the word "bimbo." That made him seem a bit more local to me, actually.

Then came this tender confession "that I never seemed to solve: cleaning up and dressing up the kids when Pat was unavailable." He clucks on about a photo of the Schroeders at Christmas with President and Mrs. Carter with the children looking "like urchins from a Dickens's novel."

Come on. This is an international lawyer who, presumably, is capable of dressing himself. He can't figure out how to locate appropriate clothing for his children to meet the president --- and he gets a pass on this?

Dang. It's not rank at all. It's right back to gender. No politicial wife would get a pass on urchin-looking children at a presidential greet and flash. Michelle Obama would not get a pass for that.

Then just when I'd about given up and turned the Kindle back to The Tipping Point Jim does come up with a teeny bit of tattling. (Why did he think I downloaded?) Jim dropped the dime on Bob Dole's failure to actively support Elizabeth Dole's stab at the Republican nomination. That would have been fun to flesh out at one of those long-winded affairs where the spouses are otherwise disposed and there's too long of a line at the bar to get another unobtrusively.  That's the kind of story I want during those dinners where I usually can only say "Oh," a lot and, "My."

But then Pat's husband went and ruined it by praising Bill Clinton as "a terrific asset in [Hillary Clinton's] historic campaign." Puke. I love Hillary Clinton. I loved her as a political spouse. I loved Bill Clinton. Would have voted for him a third time if given a chance. But who are these husbands kidding? Bill was a millstone around his wife's neck from start to go.

So I was already puking before the (spoiler alert) Follow the Golden Rule ending. Turns out this memoir is a cautionary tale of dual career families when the wife holds the primary career. A small market you would think, but in a funny little chapter near this golden rule ending, Schroeder finally slips in a little bit of tongue. He introduces Charles Horner.

Horner founded the nebulous Dennis Thatcher Society for husbands who remain obscure behind their wives success. Charles Horner knighted Jim Schroeder into the society when called by a Washington Post reporter who had heard of what may or may not have been pure whimsy at that point in time -- this is never made explicit by Schroeder.

Ultimately Horner and Schroeder met and even a few times convened with appropriate members who could meet their rules which included always meeting at a club where they could sign the bill off to one of their wives. Their slogan was, "yes, dear."

And, "The element of obscurity was crucial," Schroeder wrote, "As Horner once observed, 'Bob Dole couldn't possibly be a member.'"

Now that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. You come on over to my table, Mr. Horner, sit down right here by me.

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