Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: Little spouse on the prairie

Always quick with a quip, Pat Schroeder was one of the most quotable members of Congress during her 24-year tenure in the House. Turns out her husband, James Schroeder, also had plenty to say, as he proves in his new memoir, Confessions of a Political Spouse.

"When all of a sudden your wife becomes a more prominent player than you, you have to make some adjustments," Jim told the Missoulian this week, when the Schroeders traveled to Montana to visit former Congressmen Pat Williams and his wife, Carol, now in the Montana Legislature. "But I always thought if your wife is moving up and doing wonderful things, why not be supportive of that? To me, that's always been a no-brainer."

And Jim, like Pat a graduate of Harvard Law School, clearly has brains to spare.

While Schroeder was in Congress, he formed the Dennis Thatcher Society, named after the husband of Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. "To be in it, your wife had to have a more prominent job than you, and you had to be able to sign your wife's name to a bill," Jim explains. "Our motto was, 'Yes, Dear.'"

Other prominent members: Martin Ginsberg and John O'Connor, husbands of Supreme Court justices. But it was the time Jim spent with other congressional spouses that proved particularly valuable. "He also got much better gossip than I did," Pat Schroeder says.

Jim Schroeder will be signing his book at the Tattered Cover on September 30.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun