Leave it to foreign media to provide the kind of information we might not have ever seen anywhere in the so-called American “mainstream media.”
What brings this to mind is a chain email making the rounds concerning a large stable of paid attendants to First Lady Michelle Obama.
First, by way of full disclosure, I don’t truck much with the title First Lady. It’s annoying. A president’s spouse is the wife of an elected official, nothing more to it. She is not a government employee and is neither appointed nor elected. Simply, it is a label contrived to create some kind of notion of royalty which is something we don’t need any more now than the then newly-forming nation did 233 years ago. But back to the email assertion.
The message it conveys under the title “Recession, Depression, What Michelle Worry?” is traced back to a copyright article published by Canadafreepress.com late this month which alleges that Ms. Obama requires more than twenty attendants whose combined public salaries total just a smidgen under $1.7-Million. This, at a time –the original article points out- when “tens of millions of Americans (are) facing destitution, earning less than subsistence wages” who are coming to realize that the elite benefit packages thrown in for these servants “are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public.”
For perspective, Jacqueline Kennedy’s office consisted of one person who acted as supervisor of nine full and part time employees, according to the archivist for the Kennedy Presidential Library. Mamie Eisenhower as well as Bess Truman personally paid the wages for personal secretaries.
And for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth by her critics and the media at the time, you would have thought they were screaming, “What in the wide world of sports is gong on here?” –to borrow the line by Slim Pickens in Blazing Saddles– when Mary Todd Lincoln bought china for the White House. Gasp!
So, who are the members of Michelle’s army? According to Dr. Paul L. Williams and the staff at thelastcrusade.org (which bills itself as –among other things, the last bastion against complacency) they are:
1. $172,2000 – Sher, Susan (Chief Of Staff)
2. $140,000 – Frye, Jocelyn C. (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy And Projects For The First Lady)
3. $113,000 – Rogers, Desiree G. (Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary)
4. $102,000 – Johnston, Camille Y. (Special Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady)
5. $ 102,000-Winter, Melissa E. (Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
6. $90,000 – Medina , David S. (Deputy Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
7. $84,000 – Lelyveld, Catherine M. (Director and Press Secretary to the First Lady)
8. $75,000 – Starkey, Frances M. (Director of Scheduling and Advance for the First Lady)
9. $70,000 – Sanders, Trooper (Deputy Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady)
10. $65,000 – Burnough, Erinn J. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
11. $ 65,000- Reinstein, Joseph B. (Deputy Director and Deputy Social Secretary)
12. $62,000 – Goodman, Jennifer R. (Deputy Director of Scheduling and Events Coordinator For The First Lady)
13. $60,000 – Fitts, Alan O. (Deputy Director of Advance and Trip Director for the First Lady)
14. Lewis, Dana M. (Special Assistant and Personal Aide to the First Lady)
15. $52,500 – Mustaphi, Semonti M. (Associate Director and Deputy Press Secretary To The First Lady)
16. $50,000 – Jarvis, Kristen E. (Special Assistant for Scheduling and Traveling Aide To The First Lady)
17. $45,000 – Lechtenberg, Tyler A. (Associate Director of Correspondence For The First Lady)
18. Tubman, Samantha (Deputy Associate Director, Social Office)
19. $40,000 – Boswell, Joseph J. (Executive Assistant to the Chief Of Staff to the First Lady)
20. $36,000 – Armbruster, Sally M. (Staff Assistant to the Social Secretary)
21. Bookey, Natalie (Staff Assistant)
22. Jackson, Deilia A. (Deputy Associate Director of Correspondence for the First Lady)
Is this an unprecedented number of staff members attending to Ms. Obama when a record number of people (about 34-Million) are having to rely upon food stamps or their equivalent just to get by? According to D’Angelo Gore of factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the actual number is 24 not 22 as listed by Williams.
Gore got that number when he spoke with Katie Lelyveld, Ms. Obama’s press secretary who he said declined to name the additional two staff members. Still, the 24 number does not include the full time hair-dresser and makeup artist assigned to Michelle Obama, he said.
To be fair Laura Bush was no penny-pincher either when it came to personal staff with a list of 15 persons assigned to positions whose salaries totaled just under $1.1-Million.
When she shared the White House Hillary Clinton had a staff of 13.
“…in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much.” –Michelle Oboma