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A Moving Experience for Obama's Mother-in-Law

Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Cue the mother-in-law jokes! The newly dubbed "First Granny" is coming to the White House.

By all accounts, Marian Robinson gets on splendidly with her son-in-law -- so well that Michelle Obama has persuaded her mother, 71, to leave Chicago and move to Washington. The former secretary -- widowed in 1991, retired last year -- was the primary caregiver for Malia and Sasha when their parents were on the campaign trail and will help the family make the transition to a new school, new friends and presidential spotlight.

"It's a very wise decision" said Carl Sferrazza Anthony, historian of the National First Ladies' Library in Ohio. "It will provide continuity and intimacy to these two girls who are being uprooted. It will be good not only for the children, but for the new first lady."

No word on whether Robinson will live with the family or get her own place nearby, but she won't be the first presidential mother-in-law to spend lots of time at 1600 Penn: Mamie Eisenhower's mother, Elvira Doud, wintered there; Bess Truman's mom, Madge Wallace, moved in and relentlessly bullied poor Harry.

Joe Biden and Jean Finnegan Biden at the Democratic National Convention. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Will Jean Finnegan Biden, 91, move to the Naval Observatory grounds in January? Joe Biden's mother lives with the family in Delaware, but there's a pool house behind the veep's official residence (Tipper Gore's mom lived there in the '90s) that's perfect for one.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 11, 2008; 1:02 AM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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Please folks stop the drama about the mother-in-law.Any person culturally aware wouldn't find the move unusual at all.

Posted by: bigman5 | November 11, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

What great role models, especially in these economic times when putting the older generation in nursing homes and assisted living and throwing the costs on the taxpayers is so common.

Posted by: miriamac2001 | November 11, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't see anything wrong with extended moving into the White House, etc., but I do not believe that taxpayers should foot the bill for them. They should be expected to compensate the government for their food and lodging in some manner - just because a member of their family gets elected into office doesn't mean the whole dang family gets a free ride...

Posted by: pennv | November 11, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

With two young children and both the new first lady and the president-elect being in there 40's. The idea of a first grandmother living in the white house makes sense. This will provide a degree of continuity to these two young ladies when there parents are out. This is what thousands of Americans are doing and sets a good example.

Posted by: edhenson | November 11, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Such petty minded comments about the cost of food for anybody,let alone a parent certainly displays a serious lack of intelligence.
I guess the same depraved minds will question the cost of food for the puppy.
When those who are not Americans can display some form of respect for your President and President elect and their First Ladies is it too much to expect that sense of decency from citizens of the country? Freedom of speech is not a cue for a display of ignorance.

Posted by: stan_soares | November 11, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I guess if grandma moves in and cares for young children when their parents are working, she should pay the parents for her share of utilities, rent, and food. By the same token, the parents should pay her for her work, including health benefits, social security, disability insurance, cooking, cleaning etc. That should set the model for all families across America. Business is business and family is a crock.

Posted by: TheTraveler | November 12, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The first family does have to pay for its own food and, I believe other costs of taking care of their personal needs (cleaning and laundry) but the housing and utilities are considered part of the package. Having grandma pay for her heat would make about as much sense as putting a timeclock in the Oval Office and paying the President overtime when he works late.

Posted by: footwork61 | November 12, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

1. Who will bear the cost of this?
2. Will her meals in the White House be deducted from her taxes? Her travel costs?
3. Will her Secret Service protection be paid for out of the pocket of the Obama family or be placed on the shoulders of American's to bear.

I must say that I appalled at the thought of this happening. When I voted for change it was not to allow the extended family of the President of the US skate by on a free ride. If Mrs. Obama's mother moves into the White House it will show that this is the same thing we have come to expect from Washington and I will surely move back to voting Republican next term.

My question is what can Congress do about this or can the President have anyone they want living in the White House. Could I move in there? Is it fair to let the tax payers pay her way while we all suffer with job loss and job insecurity.

I must say I am furious already with President Obama if this is the way he will use his position.

Posted by: crosbyjeff | November 14, 2008 5:48 PM | Report abuse

This is hilarious. This is just a babysitter...nothing more. Don't make this some wonderful gesture. The guy's just saving money and will claim her as a dependent on his taxes! hahahaha...
This is like a rerun of the Jeffersons

Posted by: ddaniels1123 | November 15, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Now obama's illegal aunt who lives in Boston can move in, too.

How about obama's brother who is allegedly homeless?

Next we can bring over some of obama's relatives from Kenya!

Abuse of power starts early for this administration.

Posted by: markandbeth | November 16, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Why don't they bring in obama's illegal aunt, too?

And his homeless brother?

Oh, he has some relatives in Kenya who would love a free ride in the White House on our dime!

Abuse of power starts early for this administration.

By the way, I might consider this situation differently if Michelle's mother had been living with them already. This is ridiculous.

Posted by: markandbeth | November 16, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

the fact that the mother is movin' on up into the white should not surprise you. additionally don't be surprised when bro goes to live there too. then there are the girls...big bellies will soon follow.

Posted by: cocktailsany1optonlinenet | November 17, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Stop being so petty people! If he wants to move his m-i-l in with him so be it. It's a very small price to pay considering the amount of money we all have lost over the last 8 yrs. Besides,with the measly salary that we pay our president, we should view it as an added amenity. And he is not the only president who has had extended family in the WH. Get a life! And to the Republican who will vote "R" again, simply because his mother-in-law moves in...good riddens!!!

Posted by: InformedAmerican | November 17, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I certainly hope that the tax payer isn't going to be paying for Grandma to live in the White House! She is NOT part of the deal & I feel that is telling citizens of America "We are going to do whatever we want & you can't stop us". Sorry, I think it is a bad idea, if they expect taxpayers to pay for her to live there.

Posted by: IdahoGirl1 | November 18, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Why is Michelle Obama's mother coming to live with them in the White House? I thought it was just for the "first family." I don't think it's supposed to be for the extended family. Maybe this is a cultural thing, or "Change." This ticks me off. Has this ever happened before? I don't think so. I can't stand the Washington Post, but I get a laugh out of how they're painting this one with a rosey glow. I happen to agree with some of the comments afterwards about the cost to taxpayers. Will she have the Secret Service detail as well? And what about Obama's homeless aunt in Boston and his brother in Kenya? Will they be coming to live there too? These people are just ridiculous!

Posted by: lisa415 | November 18, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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