In the winter of 2008, Americans learned that our future First Lady had grown up with multiple sclerosis in her home. Michele Obama spoke about her father, Fraser Robinson, who was a pump worker for the City of Chicago while he raised two future Princeton graduates.
The new First Lady described how she watched her Dad, “grab his walker, prop himself against the sink and slowly shave and button his uniform.” When he came home, he would reach down to lift one leg after another to make it up the stairs and greet his kids. I did not hear about the man again.
I had wondered if Mrs. Obama would assume a leadership role in the effort to win more funding for MS research. I realize that the endless array of diseases seeks better funding, too. The Federal Government cannot show favoritism. I get it. President Obama will leave office soon enough. So what happens then?
Ann Romney, wife of Mitt, Obama’s opponent in the 2012 race for The White House, was diagnosed with MS in 1998. The Romneys have founded the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a Harvard hospital. Mrs. Romney has told audiences she could barely get out of bed back then. She looks like a million dollars now. That she is willing to go out front is wonderful.
I hope Mrs. Obama speaks out about MS and the courage of her father when the First Family leaves the limelight behind. What a team she and Mrs. Romney could make. Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush ignored party lines with their charitable projects decades ago. That kind of alliance has existed before. It’s not a bad idea.