NEW YORK, Feb. 17 LAWFUEL – Legal News Daily — Michelle Obama was never much interested in calling attention to herself. Now a very public figure, Michelle has accepted the role of aspiring First Lady and the sometimes uncomfortable scrutiny that comes with it. In Newsweek’s February 25 cover, “The Real Michelle Obama” (on newsstands Monday, February 18), Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe profiles the woman who Barack Obama has called “my rock” — the person who keeps him focused and grounded.
Those who know Michelle Obama invariably describe her as poised,
relaxed and confident. “There is no difference between the public Michelle and the private Michelle,” says University of Chicago law professor David Strauss, who sits with her on the board of the University of Chicago’s Lab School. “There’s no pretense.” Yet that confidence did not come naturally.
Now 44, Michelle has had to overcome persistent self-doubts and
insecurity-about her abilities, about race and class, and about what kind
of life she was supposed to lead.
Part of Michelle Obama’s appeal is that she comes across as so normal
despite the growing national campaign. As a political spouse, she is
somewhat unusual. She isn’t the traditional booster who sticks to a script.
Nor is she a surrogate campaign manager, ordering the staff around and
micromanaging the candidate’s every move. She travels the country giving
speeches and attending events, but resists staying away for more than one
night at a stretch. When the couple catch up several times a day on the
phone, the talk is more likely to be about their daughters than the latest poll projections. Michelle has made it her job to ensure that Barack doesn’t himself lose sight of what’s normal. Michelle does this in part by tethering him to the more mundane responsibilities of a husband and father.
During an interview with Newsweek she said that she feels she and
Barack’s relationship is “exactly the same because we talk every night. We talk as long as we need to. So I don’t feel like I’m in any way
disconnected from him … I’m probably more connected with his work than
I’ve ever been before … In terms of physical time together, it’s more
sporadic. But mentally and emotionally, it feels like we’re right where
we’ve always been.”
Still new enough to politics that she doesn’t yet belabor her every
word, Michelle’s sharp humor poking fun at her husband — she’s joked that Obama snores and has bad breath in the morning — can sometimes fall flat.
This is especially true when people see the punch lines in print, where her comments can be read as disrespectful. At a recent speech in Wisconsin, the excited young woman introducing Michelle flubbed her line, saying she was “honored to introduce the next president!” Michelle strode to the podium with a big smile. “I like that promotion that I got,” she told the crowd.
“I don’t know if Barack knows yet. We can announce it on the news tonight.
He’s going to be the First Lady.” Although she realizes not everyone finds her jokes funny, she doesn’t seem all that interested in curbing her tongue. “Somehow I’ve been caricatured as this emasculating wife,” she tells Newsweek. “Barack and I laugh about that. It’s just sort of, like, do you think anyone could emasculate Barack Obama? Really now.”
She insists that he fly home from wherever he is to attend ballet recitals and parent-teacher conferences. Michelle recently bought two MacBook laptops, one for Barack and one for the kids, so they could have video chats over the Internet. Last Thursday, she cleared his schedule so he could return home to Chicago and spend Valentine’s Day with her and the girls.