Of course, there is also her up-by-the-bootstraps story in Southside Chicago, who worked her way into a double Ivy League education. This beginning, followed by her years spent juggling a successful legal career while raising two daughters has given her a distinctly un-Stepford Wife stump style that Republican Candidates wives are known for. The Perfect First Lady Mold, Broken by Hillary Clinton has opened a way for Michelle Obama to open up our view of intelligent wives who have opinions. Her candor and compulsion to ignore the cardinal rule of political wifedom by portraying her husband as something less than a God-made-flesh thrills us with her familiarity, even as it unnerves us with the intimacy. Even her husband jokes that Michelle is tougher, smarter and “a little meaner” than he is.
A charmed and even intimidated press has embraced her Tough Broad narrative, proclaiming Michelle a gutsy, regal, forthright, unscripted, potential first lady. Its “clear that nobody tells her what to say,” notes USA Today. The Wall Street Journal recently recounting Michelle’s dressing-down of a TV cameraman who dared “place [his] hand” on her press secretary, while the March 10 New Yorker tells how Michelle once confronted a mob questioning her husband’s “loyalty to the community” at a Chicago campaign event during his Senate run. Actually folks, she reminds me of Barbara Bush. Barack Obama is lucky to have such a woman as his partner.
Despite her obvious talents, Michelle Obama has been the one to adjust her personal ambitions to accommodate the needs of her family. The family’s “rock”, she has provided the emotional, practical, and even financial stability enabling her husband to go out and achieve his dream of presidential run. “The poise that you see is genuine,” says her older brother Craig Robinson. “She is quite comfortable in all situations.” David Mosena, who hired her to be his deputy chief of staff when he worked for Mayor Richard Daley in the early ’90s, says, “She has her feet solidly on the ground, both of them. There’s not a bone of superficiality in her. She is the real deal. … She is very comfortable with herself.” That comes across to me, and in turn inspires my confidence in her and her husband.
Michelle Obama may be tougher, smarter, and more accomplished than most occupants of the East Wing, but she isn’t a mold-shattering new breed of First Lady, or even the fierce symbol of feminism that was Hillary Rodham Clinton was in 1992. She is, rather, the next model of the modern first lady. A fresh, modern exterior wrapped around a fundamentally traditional core–which, for the purposes of her husband’s campaign, seems to me the best of all possibilities.