Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mrs. Blagojevich

This month's Chicago Parent magazine has an interview with Patti Blagojevich, the governor's wife, about raising an 8-year old and a 2-year old while her husband is in office.

I was pretty impressed by how candid she seemed and how "un-spun" the interview felt. It's so rare to get an unstaged glimpse of a politician's family life that I found myself thinking about this interview for a few days afterward. The writer, Lorien Menhennett, didn't seem to shy away from posing some tough questions, either.

Here are some choice quotes.
On Not Living in the Governor's Mansion in Springfield:
"The 35-room, 50,000 square foot governor's mansion 'is a beautiful place and a state treasure, but it's not necessarily the best place to raise children,' said Blagojevich. 'You have to do the best for your kids. I think most people understand.' . . .

Childproofing would have been a nightmare. And with tour groups tromping through the residence three days a week, she sees the environment as disruptive -- not to mention decadent. Having servants on hand might sound like fun, but Blagojevich says it's not a habit she wants herself--or--her kids to get accustomed to. . .

Take root beer for example. At home, Amy and Annie (the governor's kids) have three drink choices: milk, water or juice. On special occasions, such as when the governor takes Amy to a Cubs game, Amy drinks her favorite pop, Dad's Old-Fashioned Root Beer. Someone in the governor's mansion found that out, and suddenly the refrigerator was stocked with root beer -- not something Blagojevich wants her kids drinking every day."

On the public family feud between her husband and her father, Alderman Richard Mell:
"'I think it's not unusual. I think most families have those kinds of issues. Ours just happen to be in front of everybody.' . . . 'We give (Amy) the 8-year-old version,' she says. 'You try to shield them from as much of that as possible. And not talk about it in front of them. It's a hard one.'

On homosexuality:
"She pulled out It's So Amazing, a children's book that uses cartoons to explain sperm, birth and babies.

The book also gave Blagojevich an opportunity to talk about homosexuality -- something that she considers important because her sister, Amy's aunt, is a lesbian. At the end of the book she says, is a section on being gay. After reading it, Blagojevich asked Amy, 'Who do we know that's gay?'

'I don't know,' Amy said.

'Aunt Debbie,' Blagojevich prompted, explaining that was why her aunt had a girlfriend.

'Oh.' Amy paused, then said: 'I just have one question, Mommy. If they get married, who's going to wear the tuxedo?' Blagojevich laughs as she remembers her relief that the question wasn't a tougher one."

Hmmm. That seems pretty upfront and truthful to me. Maybe this was some politically-spun propaganda, but to me the telling quote of truth was this one: "Downstairs, Blagojevich reheats a cup of soymilk-sweetened coffee. 'I need my afternoon caffeine fix,' she says.'"

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