By David Michael Newstead.
The prospect of the first female President of the United States also raises the possibility of a man occupying a never before held office as well – First Husband.
For the Clinton’s, this is complicated by the fact that one of them is already a former president who has to consciously shift to a support role. Traditionally, the spouse of the president is non-political or less political at least and, therefore, less controversial and typically more popular with the public overtime. First Ladies, for instance, have long embraced charitable causes and championed the less fortunate. But the more leadership they’ve exerted beyond that narrow role the more polarizing they’ve become, illustrating the difficulties faced by women in power historically.
In America, the two best examples of this are Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1940’s and, of course, Hillary Clinton in the 1990’s. But as a society, we’re becoming more accustomed to women in elected office; so much so that even conservative icon Sarah Palin had a husband sitting at home in the governor’s mansion. At the state level, this is nothing new and the term “First Gentleman” has already officially described a long list of spouses (many of whom were former governors themselves). What is uncharted though is a First Gentleman at the national level: the logo, the acronym, the terminology.
What would a First Gentleman of the United States do all day?
For Bill Clinton specifically, that’s easier to determine than for a hypothetical spouse. He’d likely continue with his work at the Clinton Global Initiative, give speeches, and probably fundraise. Now, how all of that would mesh with the duties of an office that’s been feminine for 240 years, I don’t know. Luckily, we have an entire presidential campaign to figure it out.
And if all goes well, you can look forward to reporters stumbling over the phrase “First Gentleman” for the next few years. On Fox News, especially.