Chirlane McCray Is Deeply Involved in Her Husband's Political Career. Why Is That a Story?

What Women Really Think
Dec. 4 2013 2:11 PM

Chirlane McCray Is Deeply Involved in Her Husband's Political Career. Why Is That a Story?

186579857
Chirlane McCray, wife of and advisor to New York City's next mayor, Bill de Blasio

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A piece in today’s New York Times describes Chirlane McCray’s “outsize” role in her husband, New York mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s, political career. McCray and de Blasio have an extremely close intellectual relationship, and McCray weighs in on his appointments and policy decisions. After reviewing previously undisclosed emails and talking to many former aides, reporters Michael Barbaro and Michael M. Grynbaum posit that “there is little precedent in New York for the intense day-to-day political partnership that the mayor-elect and his wife intend to bring to City Hall on Jan. 1.”  

But maybe that’s just because the last time a New York City mayor was happily married was David Dinkins in 1994, and Dinkins probably didn’t have email.

Advertisement

Many, many, many political wives have had so-called “outsize” roles in their husband’s political destinies. Carl Sferrazza Anthony, a historian of the National First Ladies Library, wrote a great roundup of First Lady political influence in 2009. Some of the highlights include:

Jackie Kennedy's 1956 drafting of JFK's endorsement of Stevenson for president, Edith Wilson's scribbled version of her paralyzed husband's instructions to Cabinet members, Chief of Staff Don Regan's book which unintentionally shows Nancy Reagan's wisdom on presidential appearances and statements and military aide Benjamin Montgomery's attesting that Ida McKinley successfully urged her husband to retain the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s just-released book, The Bully Pulpit, about the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, describes how Taft wasn’t even at the meeting where his wife, Nellie, and Roosevelt decided that Taft would run for President in 1908. Taft might have been taking wifely input a little too far by not even bothering to show up, but all of these examples illustrate how spouses with close relationships deeply influence each other. McCray’s role in her husband’s future mayoralty doesn’t seem so “outsize.” It seems pretty normal.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?