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It began with Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. It accelerated with Jack and Jackie Kennedy. Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson became partners in office and Nancy and Ronnie seemed joined at the hip. Without question, the presidential couple has arrived as a force in politics. Yet surprisingly, the electorate is not happy about it.
The emergence of the presidential couple is one of the most important and contentious developments in America's postwar political history. Its citizens' reaction to the First Couple reflects the country's changing morality, its uncertain attitude toward feminism, and the increasing power of the media. Gil Troy traces these shifts through ten presidential marriages, from the homesick tensions between Harry and Bess Truman to the very public scandals endured by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Along the way, readers learn of Mamie Eisenhower's perseverance on her husband's campaign trail, Gerald Ford's embarrassment over Betty's outspoken honesty, and the amazing political success of Nancy and Ronald Reagan's partnership in office. With a new chapter devoted to Hillary and Bill Clinton's tainted partnership in office and to our present First Lady's senatorial ambitions, this edition of Gil Troy's Mr. and Mrs. President offers fresh insights into America's paradoxical expectations for its presidential wives and husbands.
"Troy argues that the rise of the First Couple is not simply a function of the women's movement, but reflects a mixture of factors, including the weakening of parties, the rise of personality politics, the increasing power of the Presidency and the Federal Government and perhaps, most important of all, the 'rise of the mass media and the new political culture it spawned.'"—New York Times Book Review.
Preface to the Paperback edition
Prologue: Searching for Perfect Couples in the Shadow of FDR and ER
1. "Just the Wife of the President"
On the Trumans, Privacy, and Gentility
2. "Ike Is My Career"
The Eisenhowers at Home in the Fifties
3. The Kennedys
"A Magic Moment in American History"
4. "Crawling Down Pennsylvania Avenue on Broken Glass"
The Johnson Partnership During the Assault on Standards
5. "Stand By Your Man"
From the "Pat and Dick" Show to the Final Days
6. The Ford Interregnum and the Primal Scene of Presidential Politics
7. "Who Elected Her?"
The Carters' Co-presidency
8. "Doing Everything We Can"
The Reagan Liberation
9. Perfect Couple, Imperfect President
The Bush Restoration
10. "Dates with the American People"
The Clintons' Journey From Co-presidency to Co-dependency
Conclusion: "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden"
First Consort, Not First Lady
A Guide to Sources