Skubick: The committment it takes to be a public servants

- Oh my the anti-politician boo-birds will have a field day with this because anytime something positive is said about our public servants, they tear it to shreds based on the notion that all of them are evil. So have at it.

In a reflective conversation the other day the former State School Superintendent Mike Flanagan was asked to comment on how his four month retirement had been going. After an impressive 25 years in the messy education trenches, he first said, "I get up when I want to," but then in more poignant terms he repeats what his spouse Anne said to him, "I have my husband back."

In one sentence she captures the essence of the personal sacrifice that so many office holders confront as they go about the people's business at the expense of their personal family business back home.

The general public is mostly unaware of that aspect of this game, which can be challenging to say the least.

Former Gov. Bill Milliken to this day regrets sending his two children off to boarding school while he was in office.

"My family had to pay a terrible price that I was not there when, as I look back, I should have been there. And this is something that I have regretted all these years…."

Michigan's longest serving governor reflects that "it is a terribly demanding profession. It demands unlimited hours every day."

Ask the current First Lady about that. During a Public TV interview last year she was asked about living with her husband in the empty-nest with the three children now out on their own. he conceded that she didn't know because he had not been around. He was running for re-election.

The current First Family tries to get around this by getting everyone around the dinning room table every Sunday night when possible.

During her exit interview after eight time-consuming years in office, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm was blunt.

"I think every parent has a bit of guilt that you're not spending more time" with the children. She had three, And son Jack was five years old when she became governor.

She credits former First Husband Dan with keeping the home fires burning while she was out doing what she had to do.

"He enabled me to do my job," she reflects and he tried to return the favor by adding, "for the first six years of his life, Jennifer read to him every single night," but that was before she was governor.

And while on the subject of First Children, and there have been twelve of them in recent years, the governors and spouses have aggressively guarded the kids' privacy and for the most part, and this may shock you, the media has pretty much left them alone.

There were some instances of behavior that certainly would have made news, but were never reported.

And on the plus side, some governors report the children actually benefited from having mom or dad in the state's top job.

But the harsh reality remains: If you want to suceed at the top of the political heap, more often than not the job trumps some of the responsibilities back home in order to get there. That seldom gets reported either.

And now the boo-birds will really go nuts, perhaps the next time you see your favorite elected official, wouldn't it be nice to say thank you for your service and the sacrifices they are making on your behalf.

Be honest, most citizens would never make the commitment to public service knowing that the cost, in many instances, is too much to pay.

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