There is widespread agreement that the position of first lady is both an anachronism and not something that can be done away with, because of the politics of the post and Americans’ affection for it.
The reasons it’s an anachronism are legion: As the current president has noted, the first lady has paid staff but is not paid herself, even when she devotes herself full-time to the most substantive sort of first ladying. She defaults into the post when her husband is elected, no matter who she is, but also has no real option to opt out of the role. The nation looks to her often to be a kind of national mater familias, if you will, focused on home-and-hearth issues—even if that’s never been her real area of professional focus. Meanwhile, the conflict-of-interest and security issues involved in her continuing to work outside the White House can make maintaining her own independent career impossible.
There’s also no question that Michelle Obama, who like her husband is an Ivy League-trained attorney, has performed the role with aplomb. She remains ridiculously popular, even as the president’s approval has sunk in tandem with that of the Republicans in Congress he’s been battling.
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Hundreds of thousands attended the public swearing in of President Barack Obama for his second term, and more attended the Inaugural Parade and dozens of related parties, balls, and concerts around the area. Photos [above] cover the entire event, from the long preparation, through the ceremony, to the Inaugural Balls.
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First Lady Michelle Obama can charm talk-show hosts, deliver winning anecdotes about her husband’s socks, and bake a mean cookie. The mom-in-chief, as she calls herself, has broad appeal, but she’s particularly good at firing up the Democratic base. And as the candidates fight over female voters, Michelle Obama’s popularity could be pivotal.
[…]Romney’s wife, Ann, is also well-liked, capable of giving a strong speech and delivering personal anecdotes that soften her husband’s image. Ann Romney has also been an important conduit to female voters: her speech at the Republican convention, which included an ode to women and the burdens they bear, is a case in point.
But while Ann Romney tends to talk more generally about her husband’s kindness and leadership, Michelle Obama has made the case that the president deeply understands what women’s lives are like.
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There’s something inherently not cynical here, though. Perhaps that’s the reason so many people applauded Michelle Obama’s speech with tears in their eyes, or the reason so many women (and men) posted or tweeted “I love Michelle Obama!” after she spoke last night. We can all relate to the power of mom, but we are primed and eager for this burgeoning concept of motherhood. She’s not “just a mom.” She’s a mom-in-chief. Maybe later, she will be something else, go back to her career, surpass Barack in a powerful position. But for now, she’s where she is and owning it.
Read more. [Image: Official White House Photo, Pete Souza]
Combining the star wattage of a wildly popular first lady, the skills of a now-seasoned political pro, and the carefully curated stories of real people, Michelle Obama on Tuesday knocked it out of the park during her Democratic National Convention speech.
Those who are fans of the first lady will doubtless spend the next few days dissecting her patterned silk Tracy Reese frock, or her very high pink heels, or how she made them feel.
But the first lady is no Barbie doll.
What she is is a Harvard Law School-educated attorney playing dress up in America’s most old-fashioned White House position. She took the stage on the exceedingly well-programmed opening night of a political convention designed to reelect her husband — and used the opportunity to deliver a series of devastating contrasts with the Romney family and policy agenda, cloaked in the bromides of wifely love.
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Who doesn’t love an election year feud? Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford. Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter. Sarah Palin vs. Katie Couric. Michelle Obama vs. Ellen DeGeneres. Wait, what?
It seems that the daytime TV host, still smarting from losing a pushup contest against the First Lady in February, decided to retaliate by showing off a photo of young Michelle Robinson dressed for prom. DeGeneres showed the photo as they taped a segment for Monday’s show. She did also post her own prom photo, which is perhaps worse (is that a prom dress or something she stole from Marsha Brady’s closet?). Still, that’s quite a racy dress for the future FLOTUS — especially the side slit. In fact, Obama said she didn’t think she’d let her own daughters wear the dress.