Primary job for spouses of G20 leaders: Do no harm
Though prominent wives have advocated for political initiatives at home, they’ve stayed away from the microphones at international summits
“Their basic job is not to do damage,” Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, says.
Mr. Troy cites a memo written by U.S. president Richard Nixon in 1972, where he considered bringing his wife on a state visit.
“If Pat comes to China, she’s coming as a prop,” Mr. Nixon wrote.
Not a lot has changed since then, Prof. Troy says…
Summits can be a haven for the lonely other halves of presidents and prime ministers, Prof. Troy says.
“If you’re feeling frustrated or if you’re feeling bored, this is an opportunity to share concerns, to find people who are likeminded in the zone of confidence and comfort. If you do have a cause, this is an opportunity to find people who have shared interest and the same power,” he says…
Prof. Troy says Ms. Obama may not get to speak up about her position on the McChrystal affair, but she can recruit support among other spouses for her less-controversial childhood obesity initiative. The stipulation, though, is “it has to be done within all the protocols and pageantry of the summit.”