In what could be an interesting bit of foreshadowing, Michelle Obama referred to her successor as the “First Spouse” during a talk Tuesday in New York City.
Since George Washington, the president’s spouse has always been called, well, the First Lady. But now that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential front-runner and could possibly win the nomination to become the nation’s first female president, the honorific would have to become gender neutral to accommodate her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
The issue came up during a “Media with Purpose” panel Tuesday in New York City at the American Magazine Media Conference, which was attended by NewsOne. The panel was attended by actresses Lena Dunham and Julianne Moore, who discussed using traditional and new media to promote social causes, including Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative.
“Things have really changed since we were campaigning in 2008,” she said, dressed in a spring green short-sleeved dress with black and white speckles. “If you want to be effective these days, you have to be nimble and willing to take some risks, try new things and engage on platforms that you would not have before.
“If Eleanor Roosevelt were alive today,” she said, “I’m sure she would have a Twitter account in addition to her radio program, because that’s how you communicate these days. I’m pretty sure that the next administration, the next first spouse — if they want to be effective in communication–Oh, you caught that,” she said, pausing for applause and laughter.
“The world is big and interesting,” she continued. “But the next first spouse is gonna have to figure out how to connect with the audiences they are trying to connect with. Who knows what the new platforms will be in the years to come. My mind is blown by Vine. My staff told me, ‘you have six seconds.’ I’m like, ‘To do what? What do you expect me to do in six seconds?’”
She said she prefers to weigh in on important issues that ultimately move the needle, such as Let Girls Learn, whose goal is to increase secondary education for girls around the globe.
“I’m always surprised when young people tweet so freely,” she said. “I’m like, ‘gosh, you guys really should think about this stuff.’”
Then in closing, while speaking to young people in the audience, she urged them to be careful. “When you put something out in the world, it lasts. And you can’t really take it back that easily. You have to be responsible.
“Rarely do you hear me, as my husband, would say, ‘pop off’ on social media,” she said.
Do you agree with the First Lady’s social media advice? Sound off in the comments.