Kathleen Parker

The Hillary and Michelle comparisons were inevitable: Ivy-educated superlawyers married to dreamy-eyed visionaries who aimed for the White House.

In every marriage, they say, one partner is the flower and the other the pot. Breaking stereotype, the women in both these cases have been the pots -- the solid, grounded ones, while their men are les fleurs bending toward the light of public adulation.

Back home where women struggle to balance family, career and other cliches, the wives pluck wilted petals from the floor where Mr. Wonderful has left them -- unnoticed as usual -- strewn as a bridal path lest his bare feet be bruised by the carpet's pile.

The only thing is, Mr. Wonderful isn't always so wunderbar when he's not parceling loaves and fishes among the tear-drenched masses. If he's Mr. Michelle, he's "snore-y and stinky" in the morning, and otherwise thinks only of himself, as Obama's wife has infamously said.

If he's Mr. Hillary, well, America is familiar with his humanness. Today, Bill seeks atonement by trading places. Now he's the pot and she's the flower, if sometimes unconvincingly. When Hillary is on the stump, she still conveys pot-ness -- a sturdy urn -- while Bill can't seem to shed his flower-ness. In a room together, the sun's rays seek him, unfooled by the shift in roles.

And the women are peeved.

Beneath Michelle Obama's attractive, best-dressed, six-feet-in-her-Jimmy-Choos, hyper-articulate, be-pearled and be-suited exterior is a kinda-angry woman. Undergirding Hillary's "I'm-your-gal" campaign is a fury born of place-holding, of turn-waiting, of patient vigilance at a turnstile managed by morons.

Both women are keenly aware -- as are their husbands -- of their competence, accomplishments and potential. They know they run the show, man the stopwatches, get the daughters squared away, manage the brush fires, get the bills paid, meals planned -- while bringing down their own six-figure salaries -- and still have to play wifey to the dude who is never surprised when matching socks materialize neatly joined in his bureau drawer.

While all those crowds whimper 'n' wail and reach to touch the hem of his raiments, she's thinking: Oh, puh-leeze.

The world notices. (And the world infers.)

Hillary says she's not a stand-by-your man sort of gal (Angry). You won't catch her baking Toll House cookies (Self-loathing). Michelle says men always think of themselves first (Resentful). This is the first time Michelle has ever been proud of America (Ungrateful).

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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