For every #1, there’s a #2–even in politics. While American citizens are bombarded with ads, commentary, and polls about the presidential and vice presidential candidates, important information is lacking. Who’s #2 for these contenders? The elected president and vice-president will each have a #2, a supportive spouse who will be the First Lady or the Second Lady/Gentleman. Should’t we get an earful about who would have the ear of our nation’s leaders? Time for the 411 on the possible #2’s.
The #2’s for the Republican ticket are already a known quantity. President Trump is running for re-election with Mike Pence remaining as his VP. Thus, we’ve had four years to learn about their #2’s and see them in action. Melania Trump is her husband’s #2 as the First Lady or FLOTUS. (That’s First Lady of the United States for any of you who are challenged when it comes to acronyms.) Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, is his #2 as the Second Lady or SLOTUS. Perhaps it’s just me, but aren’t we taking these acronyms a bit too far?
When it comes to the Democratic ticket, though, less is known about the #2’s or, at least for Jill Biden, remembered. Joe’s wife was SLOTUS for eight years during the Obama administration. But, that was a long time ago (who can even remember pre-COVID-19?), so memories may have dimmed. A refresher is needed.
At age 69, former SLOTUS Jill Biden is nine years her husband’s junior. It may be impolite to ask a woman’s age, but when it comes to politics, all facts are apparently fair game. Although she’s blond, Mrs. Biden is no dummy. In fact, she’s extremely well educated, holding three graduate degrees–two master’s degrees and a doctor of education (Ed.D.). Her doctorate is in educational leadership and was obtained from the University of Delaware in 2007.
Jill Biden is also not easily swayed. She turned down Joe’s marriage proposals five times before finally saying yes. Joe was a widower with two young boys, so she wanted to make sure that what she was doing was best for all concerned. The sixth time was the charm, and Joe and Jill married in the Chapel at the United Nations in NYC–perhaps not romantic, but very diplomatic. Would that voters took as much time and thought about voting for president as Mrs. Biden did about giving up the single life.
Since the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, one can assume that Dr. Biden, should she become FLOTUS, will have quite the schedule to juggle. She taught full-time during her husband’s two terms as Vice President serving as a professor of English at the Northern Virginia Community College, a post she’s held since 2009. As FLOTUS would she have to beg off attending a state dinner in order to get English papers graded?
The role of First Lady has never been officially defined. Basically, it is just a title conferred upon the hostess of the White House. The position is not elected and carries only ceremonial duties but is highly visible. FLOTUS even gets her own office in the East Wing of the White House complete with a staff such as a press secretary, chief of staff, and a social secretary. If Dr. Biden fills this position, she seems like a wonderful choice to write a FLOTUS handbook (grammatically correct, of course) with leadership tips.
But way more intriguing than Joe’s spouse is Kamala Harris’ husband. If the Biden-Harris ticket is victorious, the U.S. will, for the first time in our country’s history, get a Second Gentleman. Actually, I think we’d have to dub him Second Man because the SMOTUS acronym works way better that SGOTUS. Actually, the latter doesn’t work at all.
Like Kamala, her 55 year old husband, Douglas (“Doug”) Emhoff, is also an attorney. Brooklyn born, he received his law degree across the country from the University of Southern California. Licensed to practice in both California and Washington, D.C., Emhoff is described as an “entertainment litigator.” Of course, his navigating the uncharted waters of a SMOTUS could be pretty entertaining in and of itself.
As a partner in a global law firm with locations in over 40 countries, Emhoff is used to running with the big dogs. That background should serve him well in assimilating into the political power scene in D.C. If nothing else, he’ll have great cocktail party conversation fodder from his famous lawsuit involving the Taco Bell chihuahua in which he successfully defended the ad agency sued by Taco Bell. Drop that gordita, Doug!
Emhoff met Harris on a blind date arranged by one of her friends. The two immediately hit it off and were married within a year. That romantic devil proposed to the possible next Vice President in her apartment as the two discussed what Thai takeout to get. Awww! A courthouse wedding swiftly followed four months later. Whether Thai food was served at the reception is unknown.
The two lawyers have been married for six years now, and Emhoff is a regular presence with his wife during campaigning. To his wife’s amusement, he wowed the crowds with his dance moves at a Pride parade in 2019 as evidenced by a clip on social media. Yup, he’s an entertaining entertainment lawyer.
The role of a SLOTUS or SMOTUS is pretty ambiguous. Appearances at official functions seem an obvious task, but beyond that is anyone’s guess. With his entertainment world connections, Emhoff could throw some great events at the Vice President’s official residence, the U.S. Naval Observatory. Who knows? Maybe the Taco Bell chihuahua might even put in an appearance.
Even though neither FLOTUS or SLOTUS/SMOTUS are elected positions, they are nonetheless important ones. Spouses are a team, so the President and Vice President’s roles are supported by their #2. Or are they #2? With a marriage, the two become one. The political spouse is bound to be a sounding board at the least and certainly an influencer to some extent since they have their spouse’s ear for pillow talk. Thus, consideration of who a spouse is and how they might influence the elected official is a prudent one.
The winners of the 2020 presidential election remain to be seen. All that is known for certain is that whoever is elected, whether Democratic or Republican, will come with a spouse as a package deal. Given the overwhelming responsibility of filling the two highest offices in the land, the election winners will need all the support they can get from FLOTUS and SLOTUS/SMOTUS, their #2’s who are their #1 supporters.
Since the position of FLOTUS carries significant responsibilities, should it be a paid one? How much influence do you think a spouse actually has on an officeholder? Is it possible to do a good job as FLOTUS or SLOTUS/SMOTUS if that spouse is employed full-time? To what extent, if any, do you consider a candidate’s spouse when voting?
One thought on “Who’s #2? — The 411 On The Democratic Ticket’s Spouses”
Starting at the end first, I am always fascinated by the spouses. Doesnt necessarily sway my voting. Having said that, I am not impressed with our current FLOTUS. And I honestly don’t know about our current SLOTUS. The Democratic ticket seems to have a more educated team with the #2 people. I am impressed with Jill Biden and her credentials. She seemed to be just fine in her previous role of SLOTUS. And I think as FLOTUS she would be a wonderful advocate for education. Though, I don’t know what her platform will be, I still think she has what it takes. I don’t have a lot to say about Kamala Harris and her husband. What I do know about her, I don’t like. So I will stop there. Wish everyone the best of luck but praying the Lord returns before this mess of politics gets any worse!!