Michelle Obama's Makeover Begins Today

The New York Times presents the new Michelle Obama. The campaign, as I noted here, has been carefully re-working her image since the end of the primary.

The new Michelle is softer, less lawyer-like and the focus is on her past successful efforts at helping minorities, both African-American and Latino, and working to better race relations.

....her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.

Details below the fold, but let me state here, this post is not intended as criticism of Michelle Obama and gratuitous insults to her in comments will be deleted. Feel free to discuss your opinions as to the impact of her makeover on voters or its factual details, but angry, personal hostility to her is not acceptable. [More..]

From page 2 of the Times article:

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988, Mrs. Obama took a job at what is now Sidley Austin, a corporate law firm. She had a handsome salary and the prospect of better to come. Then a close friend from college died. So did her father, who had long suffered from multiple sclerosis; Michelle so adored him that she would curl up in his lap even as an adult.

“I looked out at my neighborhood and sort of had an epiphany that I had to bring my skills to bear in the place that made me,” she says in the interview. “I wanted to have a career motivated by passion and not just money.”

Eventually, she started the Chicago chapter of a training program called Public Allies. One day, looking for young leaders, she might knock on doors at Cabrini-Green, a public housing project so violent and neglected it would later be mostly demolished. Another day, she discovered Jose A. Rico, a young Mexican so alienated that he insisted on remaining an illegal immigrant rather than pursue citizenship. What is your goal? he recalled her asking. To open a high school for Latinos, he replied. Mrs. Obama nodded: Good, tell me exactly how you would do it.

“Michelle was tough, man; she let nothing slide,” said Mr. Rico, now principal of Multicultural Arts High School in Chicago, which he helped start.

She preached the gospel of the second and third chance, insisting that the white youth from Swarthmore work alongside the former gang member.

On race relations:

Blacks accused whites of being clueless. Whites said blacks masked insecurity with anger. Mrs. Obama probed carefully, sometimes dialing up the heat before turning it down.

“I hate diversity workshops,” she says. “Real change comes from having enough comfort to be really honest and say something very uncomfortable.”

On her ability to bring people together and soothe tensions:

By 2001, Mrs. Obama, married for nine years and the mother of two daughters, had taken a job as vice president of community affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She soon discovered just how acrimonious those affairs were.

Hospital brass had gathered to break ground for a children’s wing when African-American protesters broke in with bullhorns, drowning out the proceedings with demands that the hospital award more contracts to minority firms.

The executives froze. Mrs. Obama strolled over and offered to meet later, if only the protestors would pipe down. She revised the contracting system, sending so much business to firms owned by women and other minorities that the hospital won awards.

On her community deeds:

In the mostly black neighborhoods around the hospital, Mrs. Obama became the voice of a historically white institution. Behind closed doors, she tried to assuage their frustrations about a place that could seem forbidding.

Like many urban hospitals, the medical center’s emergency room becomes clogged with people who need primary care. So Mrs. Obama trained counselors, mostly local blacks, to hand out referrals to health clinics lest black patients felt they were being shooed away.

On taking a stand against injustice:

She also altered the hospital’s research agenda. When the human papillomavirus vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, became available, researchers proposed approaching local school principals about enlisting black teenage girls as research subjects.

Mrs. Obama stopped that. The prospect of white doctors performing a trial with black teenage girls summoned the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment of the mid-20th century, when white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.

“She’ll talk about the elephant in the room,” said Susan Sher, her boss at the hospital, where Mrs. Obama is on leave from her more-than-$300,000-a-year job.

On what's next:

In coming weeks, Mrs. Obama will visit the spouses of military personnel and talk of the patriotic duty to provide these families with care and services. And the campaign has hired Stephanie Cutter, a veteran strategist, as her chief of staff, who will seek to deflect attacks.

I think with good strategists, this could sell. The Times says she will take on a more prominent and visible role in her husband's campaign. Most people have not heard Michelle Obama first-hand. Aside from a few poorly phrased comments overplayed to death by the media, this will be their first chance to form their own impression of her.

If she sounds natural, and I think she will -- they've been working on the makeover for a while and she's a smart woman -- the new Michelle will be the only Michelle in a very short time.

I think voters will want to get to know her. After all, she may be our next First Lady. She isn't re-inventing herself so much as changing her tone and highlighting alternate facets of her life.

She probably won't be as spontaneous. I do hope she stops trying to convince voters she and her husband are ordinary folks just like them. They haven't been for some time. Rather than that approach, I'd like to see her listen to what others have to say about their problems -- like health care, paying off debts, child care and the like -- and then simply respond with what her husband's Administration will do to improve their lives.

It's when she ventures into the "I feel your pain, Barack and I were in the same boat until just a few years ago" that she loses me. Regular folks don't go to Princeton and Harvard and end up with $300k year jobs and million dollar book royalties.

If she can just listen and respond in a way that leaves voters with the feeling that she genuinely cares about their problems and will work hard towards finding solutions, I think she will become both accepted and admired.

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    After reading this, I'm much more (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:07:39 AM EST
    impressed w/the bio of Michelle Obama than I am impressed w/that of her spouse.  I did watch a C-Span campaign solo appearance she did in NH before the NH primary and was impressed with her ability to speak w/o notes, teleprompter, etc., in a very direct, communicative, fact-delivering manner.  

    I'm far less impressed with... (5.00 / 4) (#151)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:32:20 AM EST
    Michele Obama's bio than I am with the Obama Campaign's ability to get the New York Times to publish this puff piece in conjunction with MO's makeover debut on The View.

    And I wonder how this version of Extreme Spouse Makeover is going to fly?  This reinvention of MO might backfire -- it may merely highlight the "who is the REAL Barack Obama" questions by emphasizing the artificiality of his public image.


    It is an impressive bio, but (4.50 / 6) (#98)
    by Cream City on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:22:59 AM EST
    so was too much of her husband's, even his own autobio, that turned out to be hyperbole -- and even, as he admitted, fiction.

    So I have to refrain from trusting this version unless and until it is vetted, along with the Other Obama.


    Cream City, I agree.... (5.00 / 2) (#143)
    by Maria Garcia on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:15:40 AM EST
    ...this reads like a puff piece. That isn't Michelle's fault, its the fault of the writer. The way that incidents are depicted sound much they way they would be in a biography for middle school students.

    it's interesting that (5.00 / 2) (#206)
    by ccpup on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:35:08 AM EST
    the writer kept hitting her work for Latinos.  Seems to me internal polling shows that's a demographic the campaign is still worried about and needs to work on.

    Now watch people come out of the woodwork in the next several weeks to dispute both Obamas' resumes and sow the seeds of doubt in Voters' minds.  With their lives being basically blank slates, it's much easier to paint the picture in a negative light.  But always let the Opponent put out the Bio FIRST and then cast doubt and make them look dishonest.  This is what the GOP will do now.  The first time Barack or Michelle need to "correct" the resume, they're toast.

    A resume is more effective if one doesn't have to defend it with "yes, I was involved with that" when there are people being interviewed saying "well, we saw him (or her) once or twice, but that was about it"


    Impressive Bios (5.00 / 2) (#222)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:03:30 AM EST
    I am from a straight blue collar background.  I spent one year, my last year, at the most selective law school in the country.  While there, I viewed many student resumes, as we were preparing for clerkship apllications.  

    My immediate response was not "Wow, what achievements."  It was "Wow, what opportunites some have been given."  


    Interesting (none / 0) (#218)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:02:30 AM EST
    No mention of her being a paid Board member for the subsidiary of Wall Mart, Chicago Sun Times.  When Barack started running, they took her off the Board.  
    Michelle Obama resigned Tuesday from the board of TreeHouse Foods Inc., a Wal-Mart vendor, eight days after husband and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would not shop at the anti-union store.

    Obama has been a director of the suburban Westchester food maker since June 27, 2005. Board chairman Sam Reed received a resignation letter from Obama Tuesday. The company said she quit because of "increased demands" on her time. Obama was re-elected to the board April 19 for a term ending in 2010 -- during a period she was preparing to take on a larger role in the campaign.
    In a statement issued by the campaign, Obama said, "As my campaign commitments continue to ramp up, it is becoming more difficult for me to provide the type of focus I would like on my professional responsibilities." She said it was in "the best interests of my family and the company" she quit.
    Wal-Mart is a target of organized labor in the U.S., a Democratic constituency playing a key role in determining the 2008 Democratic nominee. Obama's link to Wal-Mart through TreeHouse was a potential liability for Sen. Obama. On May 14, during an AFL-CIO forum in Trenton, N.J., Sen. Obama was asked about Wal-Mart. "I won't shop there," he said. Chief rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) served on the Wal-Mart board between 1986 and 1992.

    For the record (5.00 / 0) (#224)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:05:45 AM EST
    A Wal-Mart vendor is not the same thing as a subsidiary of Wal-Mart.  She was on the board of an unrelated company that simply happened to sell its products at Wal-Mart.

    Granted, but (none / 0) (#231)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:13:51 AM EST
    it has the taint and was involved in Wall Mart style labor issues.  

    Stellaaa, I anticipated you would (none / 0) (#255)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:40:33 AM EST
    laud Michelle Obama's true community service.  But, no, . . .

    I believe (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by IzikLA on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:11:01 AM EST
    That she can be a huge asset to his campaign.  I have mostly admired her - her strength, her determination, her success, her motherhood and her knowledge of what her husband's greatness is and what his weaknesses are.

    The only time she ever lost me was when she said she'd have to think about who she would vote for should Barack not be the nominee.  That, I had a huge problem with.  It was obviously a stumble but her well-publicized dislike of Clinton is not helping.  The funny this is, I truly believe they are a lot alike.  She needs to put that aside, the Obama campaigns needs to stop doing silly things to hurt their chances with solid democratic voters and this will all mend itself.  I personally think an offer to Clinton on a unity ticket is the least they can do, and also probably as necessary.

    Other than that, Michelle absolutely has my respect and I think she will be a wonderful first lady.

    She didn't hesitate about who she'd vote for (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:21:46 AM EST
    the hesitation was if she would "work to support Hillary." (video here.)

    I agree that was taken a bit out of context (5.00 / 2) (#146)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:23:50 AM EST
    But still...

    It has become patently obvious that she very much dislikes Hillary ("tone of her campaign", comments from her pastor, her brother's interview where he openly discussed their dislike for her).

    I don't understand it. Well, actually, I guess I do. I think they really believe the Clintons are 'racist', and 'do anything, say anything to win'.


    She lost me when I saw (4.42 / 7) (#20)
    by LatinoVoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:58:53 AM EST
    a clip of her on the local news stumping on the S. side and she said this election was important because it was about showcasing what good families look like and that if you can't run your own house you can't run the white house.

    When she made Bill's moral shortcomings Hillary's fault I lost all respect I had for her. I really hate it when women do that to each other (I'm a guy, fyi) and in particular when minority women do it.


    God, I forgot that (5.00 / 1) (#235)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:16:48 AM EST
    I really don't like her again!! To blame Hillary cause her husband strayed, is unforgiveable. She will one day eat her words!!

    Please... (4.50 / 6) (#24)
    by Alec82 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:03:39 AM EST
    ...no false primary talking points.  Here is the full quote:

    "Our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime."

     It has nothing to do with the Clintons, and it never did.


    That's not the quote he was talking about (5.00 / 4) (#148)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:25:00 AM EST
    He was talking about a speech she gave to a women's group and the line was very different. It was totally mocking Hillary for not leaving Bill.

    fuller quote (5.00 / 3) (#149)
    by kempis on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:29:07 AM EST
    I really liked Michelle Obama until I saw the video--the full clip--of her remarks. Soon after, she and her husband were both petulant when asked about supporting Hillary if she were to win. My opinion of her has not yet recovered from those events, but that's not to say that it will not.

    The following was delivered with some dramatic pauses and winks. The crowd's reaction seemed to indicate that they "got it."

    MICHELLE OBAMA: [O]ne of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips.

    Notice the shift in subject matter, from the need for a "decent" man who "respects family" <big wink-wink and crowd hollers> to the innocuous matter of scheduling. It doesn't take tea-leave reading to get where she was coming from. She may have ended up somewhere innocuous, but she didn't start out that way.

    And that was so skillfully done that I bet Obama's campaign staff gave that one to her. It's an insult to the Clintons with plausible deniability built in. Pretty artful, really.

    All of that said, yes, I will speak up on her behalf when she's skewered for being a non-Stepford political wife. I like her down-to-earthness very much and I hope that her "handlers" won't stick her in a pillbox hat and white gloves. I like her spirit--when she isn't hatin' on the Clintons.

    If they're smart--and they are--they'll have Michelle address sexism and speak out specifically on the objectionable things said about Hillary, things that as a woman and the mother of two daughters she hopes will fade from our discourse as the old negative stereotypes of powerful women fall away.


    I saw the video (5.00 / 4) (#157)
    by Emma on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:51:17 AM EST
    And, on the video, with the dramatic pauses and encouraged audience reaction, it clearly was about the Clintons.

    Yes (5.00 / 7) (#193)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:04:58 AM EST
    There may have been an instance where she told the story with plausible deniability, but from the video I saw, it was VERY obviously a shot at the Clintons.

    I'm impressed by Michelle Obama's accomplishments but I'm simply not a fan, sorry.  After she's had a little of the Hillary Treatment perhaps she'll acquire some much-needed empathy.


    Exactly (5.00 / 2) (#213)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:50:40 AM EST
    I saw her for the first time on Oprah, way before Obama announced he was running. A lot of people thought she seemed cold and angry, without much empathy or warmth. But what I saw, more than anything, was that she really seemed unhappy. No smiling.

    I don't wish for attacks on her, but I do wish she had not piled on Hillary.


    You is what you is (none / 0) (#223)
    by Redshoes on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:04:09 AM EST
    innate personality characteristics can be masked but usually find their own level -- happiness, like empathy and gratitude, tends to be amazingly independent of circumstances.  I suspect based on what little I've observed of MO she she's in the glass half full crowd.  But I hope I wrong.

    Seems to be their MO on these things (5.00 / 0) (#221)
    by ineedalife on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:03:26 AM EST
    Deliver the message twice. Once in a way that gets the message across. And once in a sanitized version that their supporters can point to and say "there is no there there".

    That was the way with "first time I'm proud of America" point. That was delivered twice in one day. Once to rally the self-loathing liberals. And then again, slightly tweaked so those same weanies could cry that she was taken out of context.


    It had everything to do with the Clintons (5.00 / 3) (#161)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:09:17 AM EST
    and her audience knew it!

    "Our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.

    (audience reaction: jumping, clapping, hollering and laughing )

    So, so [ blah blah CYA blah blah]

    Of course it did, and it always did. (2.33 / 3) (#28)
    by MarkL on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:06:59 AM EST
    At least let the reader/viewer judge for himself.

    I don't agree, MarkL (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:41:23 AM EST
    which is very rare.  I think this remark of hers was sound-bitten into something it wasn't intended to be.

    Give her a little break. She's not a politician.


    She may not be (5.00 / 2) (#215)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:56:07 AM EST
    an elected politician, but come on, she definately knows her way around a political stage

    1. as an assistant to the mayor, Richard Daley

    2. as the founding director of the Chicago office of a public-service program called Public Allies

    3. as a member of Chicago's landmarks commission

    4. as the vice-president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals

    While on Landmarks Commission (none / 0) (#225)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:06:03 AM EST
    Got waiver they needed for the "House they bought" for the side yard.  Hmmm, the New Politics.  

    Remember when she said she had (4.71 / 7) (#71)
    by MarkL on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:45:34 AM EST
    no idea why there was so much hatred of Hillary, but  that Obama was a safer choice because of it?
    She knew EXACTLY what she was doing.

    I hadn't heard Michelle say that, but it mirrors (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by Newt on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:24:39 AM EST
    what many of my friends and associates were saying last year.  Specifically, given the across the board anti-Clinton sentiment among Dems, Repubs and Indies, Hillary's bid for the White House seemed like it would result in missed opportunities to replace Republicans in Congress.  In other words, she's always been the right wing's jackpot GOTV strategy simply because her name recognition was not an asset.  The Clintons were and are deeply hated, in spite of what her supporters here think.  And as good as Hillary is, the hatred for both of them runs too deep.

    If Michelle was referring to that, it makes a lot of sense that she and others would think that even a black man is a better choice for democrats to nominate.  The racism in America runs deep, but it's a lot easier to belittle and destroy Hillary Clinton in voters eyes than it would be to attack a black presidential candidate.  


    Indeed (5.00 / 4) (#112)
    by Dawn Davenport on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:47:09 AM EST
    ...it's a lot easier to belittle and destroy Hillary Clinton in voters eyes than it would be to attack a black presidential candidate.  

    You don't say.


    You're (5.00 / 2) (#132)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:38:29 AM EST
    kidding right? I find it amazing that people keep stating there's massive Clinton hatred out there yet Hillary continued to win primaries and earn respect and admiration during her run.

    That's just it. (5.00 / 5) (#175)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:33:50 AM EST
    There was massive hatred of Hillary--CDS as the folks here like to call it.  What your post misses is that Hillary overcame that and was able to win over people who had a negative image of her.  In the last couple of months of her campaign, she was earning the admiration (and votes) of people who were most likely to suffer from CDS.  She did that almost single-handedly once she took the reigns of her campaign. I think that's pretty amazing.  

    She clearly has an intense (4.66 / 3) (#90)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:03:02 AM EST
    dislike of Hillary. I don't think this comment was an example of it, though.  I think it's pretty clear she was into an enthusiastic riff about her family and tried to relate it to her husband's campaign.

    Cut her a break for that.  She's said enough genuinely nasty stuff.


    I've wondered about that (3.00 / 1) (#101)
    by SoCalLiberal on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:26:26 AM EST
    What is this intense hatred for?  I don't really get it.

    Many Democrats blame the Clintons for the loss (1.00 / 2) (#131)
    by Newt on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 04:22:56 AM EST
    of a potentially excellent Democratic legacy, and especially Bill Clinton for his immature antics that disgraced the Oval Office and resulted in the takeover by Republicans in Congress and elsewhere.

    I think that the Clintons are now commonly believed to have deliberately used racism to their advantage in the primary.

    That would explain a lot of what seems like hatred against Hillary.  I'm sure it's exacerbated by the other side wanting her to quit, which she obviously shouldn't have.  


    The people (5.00 / 5) (#133)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:41:36 AM EST
    who believe that stuff are not based in reality. Bill Clinton left office way more popular than any Democrat in modern history. The people who don't like him are the left wing of the party who has produced electoral loser after electoral loser. Right now Obama is hawking back to the Carter legacy. Morally pure but completely inept.

    You (5.00 / 2) (#137)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:51:31 AM EST
    think Carter was a success? Your reply has nothing to do with my statement.

    Are you aware that Bill Clinton carried all those states? And Obama has called the voters in those same states names?


    Empathy can't (5.00 / 7) (#6)
    by LoisInCo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:14:35 AM EST
    be taught. Listening as if you are actually interested could be I suppose. Either way it makes no difference to my vote.

    Gosh, who does this sound like? (5.00 / 7) (#31)
    by echinopsia on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:10:02 AM EST
    If she can just listen and respond in a way that leaves voters with the feeling that she genuinely cares about their problems and will work hard towards finding solutions, I think she will become both accepted and admired.

    It Is Well Known (5.00 / 0) (#238)
    by talex on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:19:59 AM EST
    that you can't change the spots on a leopard...

    Nor can you change or hide a persons core personality. And by by putting lipstick on...Michelle...it is still...Michelle.

    The sad thing is that they have to give her an Extreme Makeover.

    The truth is - Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy she isn't and will never be.


    I like Michelle. (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Esme on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:23:35 AM EST
    She comes off as really smart, and direct. It looks like she has some worthwhile issues that she really cares about!

    Plus, I have to say that the fist bump moment before Obama's victory speech really made me smile.

    The campaign knows (5.00 / 7) (#168)
    by BernieO on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:20:49 AM EST
    she is a potential liability. Michelle is well known for being hard-edged. Even Obama has said she is meaner than he is. She also has a tendency to whine about how hard she and Barack have had it. She even did this when talking to a group of lower income women in Ohio, complaining about paying off their debts to Ivy League colleges and the $10,000 a year they "have" to spend on dance and music lessons for their children. Think about that - These are people who can't afford basic health care, let alone Ivy League educations or fancy lessons for their kids.  Michelle seems to have no clue that she is living the American dream, something that these WHITE women have little hope of ever achieving. She is clearly out of touch with average Americans and the campaign is smart to do something about it. The only question is what the heck took them so long. The media has given her a pass so far but that may  not continue. Had they jumped on her mistakes the way they jumped on Hillary's headbands and cookie baking comments Barack would be in more trouble than he is. Not to mention they have not criticised her expensive tastes the way they did Theresa Heinz Kerry, Jackie O, etc. Maybe they were too busy obsessing about Hillary's thick ankles and pantsuits.
    Just heard Axelrod deny the Michelle makeover on Morning Joe. Guess that is not surprising.

    This is the crap I can't stand. (3.50 / 2) (#226)
    by jimotto on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:06:58 AM EST
    You are spouting Fox News talking points.  You realize that you are participating in the same kind of smear and belittlement of Michelle that was done to Hillary 16 years ago?  I suspect you've never listened to more than a sound bite of Michelle Obama.  

    Have the Obama's found the American dream?  Absolutely.  But they have also chosen to make sacrifices that others with their educational backgrounds have not.  They shouldn't have to pretend that they didn't.  My wife and I have led a similar path to the Obama's.  We pursued graduate degree's, did post docs.  I was 33 and my wife was 35 before we made 30K in a year.  Now, in our early 40's we are making great money by our standards (but not a whole lot more than the starting salary of a 22 year old mechanical engineer), own a house and see the light at the end of the tunnel on our student loans.  Our second child is 4 months old, and about to start day care, and we just about puke when we think we'll be spending over $2200/month on it for our two kids.  Much like Michelle probably remembers thinking is it worth it to spend $10,000 on music and dance lessons.  Once you get to where your trying to get, it doesn't mean you have to ignore how you got there.

    Michelle is, and will continue to be, a great asset to Barack' campaign.  As Hillary was to Bill's campaign 16 years ago, despite what the haters did.


    This is the crap I can't stand!!! (5.00 / 3) (#244)
    by talex on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:28:20 AM EST
    When people take the truth that someone posted and can't rebut the facts so instead they stoop to calling the post Right Wing talking points.

    The facts are not BernieO's fault.

    Take your head out of the sand, she has not been non will she begin to be a great asset to Obama's campaign. She just does not come across as a warm and caring person - especially for a first lady.


    Hm (5.00 / 1) (#250)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:33:47 AM EST
    I recall reading the Ohio remarks in question.  They didn't make me hate Michelle, but they struck me as somewhat tone-deaf.

    Do you consider it a right-wing talking point because the right wing talks about it, or are you saying the poster had some of his facts wrong?


    More to the point (5.00 / 0) (#253)
    by anydemwilldo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:37:13 AM EST
    BernieO is spouting FOX News talking points about Hillary Clinton.  This is exactly the stuff we were all hearing from the right 16 years ago.  She's too rough.  A first lady should be docile.  She's too ambitious.  She's lacks empathy.  She hates men.

    Look, I don't know poop about Michelle Obama, so I'm not going to make any judgements here in either direction.  I just wanted to note my dismay at the ease with which people fall into the personal attack trap.  How about some compassion, folks?


    I have never heard Michelle demean (2.33 / 3) (#246)
    by beachmom on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:29:54 AM EST
    stay at home Moms, like Hillary's unfortunate "tea and cookies" remark did so long ago (of course, I didn't see a problem with the remark at the time -- it was my Mom who pointed out that it was the wrong thing to say).  Please give me a link to Michelle saying anything remotely like that.  And, really, the fact is the Obamas were not particularly wealthy until fairly recently.  They really did only finish paying their student loans recently.  And, the fact remains that among his PEERS, Obama is the poorest member of the Senate.  It's all relative, of course, but you are out of line to act like the Obamas, who have been part of community organizing & outreach for a long time, don't understand what people who are hurting are going through.  They have made it a point to help those in need, unlike most selfish people who have the education, talent, and earning potential the Obamas possess.

    Hm (5.00 / 3) (#252)
    by Steve M on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:34:33 AM EST
    Joe Biden has a negative net worth.  Surely Obama is not the poorest member of the Senate.

    So the question is (none / 0) (#192)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:01:13 AM EST
    So the question is how well the make over stack up against many of her recorded remarks.  

    IMO, probably quite well as the past stuff will largely have gone down the memory hole.


    I think Michelle will end up being a huge asset. (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by halstoon on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:28:03 AM EST
    One of the things I like most is that when I see the Obamas together, they seem to really be best friends, truly in love with each other. I think once people get to know her--and him, really--they'll see how their commitment to the ideals Barack espouses go deeper than just the campaign trail. I think Michelle's emphasis on parenting and keeping her children grounded will go over well with the soccer moms and Midwesterners who want to know that the First Family shares their values.

    Barack and Michelle may have gotten wealthy, but they both do really know what it's like to live a regular person's life, and that is something I don't think John McCain--and certainly not Cindy--can say.

    I think they are both more race (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:02:53 AM EST
    conscious than gender. She lived in one world, studied/worked in another. I've seen different reactions in the workplaces I've been in to sexism depending on race and background.

    I noticed that Obama always says "Race, religion and region", which drives me nuts because gender is missing. From what I've read/see on Michelle, her bigger challenge seemed to be race. She may have been fine with her gender in how she was raised as Hillary seems to be. I don't get that either was raised to be a shrinking violet as far as gender goes. Sounds like Michelle was treated fairly equally to her brother as far being able to achieve.

    That's what I've noticed (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:31:17 AM EST
    and I wouldn't say it's all regional (as it's sometimes attributed to), although that plays a part. But (here in NYC especially) your 'hood could be considered regional also. I worked with one Black woman who was real quick to call out sexism. Yes, she identified as a black woman, but she could split the racism and sexism. She was in my office the day I became "official" on staff furious about the notice my new boss sent out about it, lol!~ There was def a sexism issue there and all us women were a mixed bag. There were also racial issues, especially with one person. Actually, it was the one that caused it with our mixed bag so it seemed like more.

    I can definitely see race being more pressing for some, sexism for others. And then there's the situation where there's both. Even living in SF when I did, I could see the boundaries in that oh so liberal city 20yrs ago.

    Interesting to hear your take, thanks :)


    At Princeton, Michelle Obama's (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by MKS on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:14:35 AM EST
    roommate's mother demanded a change because she did want her daughter to room with someone who was black.

    Here is the story.

    So, when wingers say that Michelle's paper at Princeton focused too much on race and her identity as an African American, remember there is a reason for this.

    That (3.00 / 4) (#134)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:43:09 AM EST
    really doesn't help much. It's blaming another person for Michelle's behavior. She has to take responsibility not blame her roommate.

    Does it ever end? (5.00 / 2) (#138)
    by Alec82 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:59:58 AM EST
    I mean seriously, does it ever end with you?

     Obama is a Carter liberal (way to go insulting Carter and Obama at the same time, btw), Michelle is a radical lefty....are there no limits to right wing talking points...by a purported left winger or liberal?  

     Michelle Obama did nothing to deserve your rather lopsided treatment.  She isn't even a politician.  If you must, attack Senator Obama.  Otherwise, this is getting very petty.


    not a politician? (5.00 / 3) (#164)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:15:32 AM EST
    Michelle Obama did nothing to deserve your rather lopsided treatment.  She isn't even a politician.

    Everything that I know about Michele Obama tells me that she is the politically ambitious member of that marriage.  (Barack has a sense of entitlement, but its Michele that pushes him to not merely rest on his laurels).

    In many ways, Michelle reminds me of the Angela Lansbury character in the Manchurian Candidate(Meryl Streep for you young' uns) -- or maybe Mama Rose in Gypsy.  Obama's essential passive-agressive nature is not consistent with the kind of political ambition he's displayed -- someone is pushing him, and I think its Michele.


    Replace (5.00 / 2) (#171)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:28:52 AM EST
    Michelle Obama with Hillary Clinton and Barack with Bill in your post above and you have exactly what people were saying in '92.  I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now.

    I kind of agree (5.00 / 2) (#178)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:40:26 AM EST
    It's a shame that the Obama's didn't recognize that object lesson, and chose instead to perpetuate the hackneyed, right-wing smears against the Clintons.

    Bull.... (5.00 / 2) (#182)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:44:29 AM EST
    Bill was just as ambitious as Hillary was.   And Bill didn't have a sense of entitlement --- in the Clinton marriage, you got a sense of a true partnership... two people who were both good at policy and politics, with one being better at policy (Hillary) and the other being better at politics (Bill).  They complimented and learned from each other, and the sum was far greater than its parts.  

    With the Obama's, what you have is simply one partner with ambition, and the other with political skills.  


    Still not buying it. (5.00 / 1) (#190)
    by indy in sc on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:55:25 AM EST
    With the Obama's, what you have is simply one partner with ambition, and the other with political skills.

    Really, do you know them that well?

    Anyone who does not know the Clinton's personally or the Obama's personally cannot look from the outside and say which person is more ambitious, who is pushing whom, etc.  

    There were a lot of commentators during this primary season who claimed that Bill was the one who wanted back into the whitehouse and was pushing Hillary to run as if she had no personal desire to be president.  Do you believe that?

    It is those types of generalizations that I rejected in 92 (and '08) about the Clintons and that I continue to reject about the Obama's.


    Oh good (5.00 / 1) (#180)
    by flyerhawk on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:43:04 AM EST
    the Lady MacBeth smear.  I haven't heard that one since the Clinton White House.

    Is it a smear... (5.00 / 6) (#189)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:52:11 AM EST
    if its true?

    There is a huge difference between ambition and entitlement.  Obama oozes a sense of entitlement --- someone who (like GWB) doesn't really think he should have to work hard to become President, who gets "bored" with running for President.

    Ambitious people work hard to achieve their goals -- and doing stuff like learning about policy isn't a 'chore' to them, but an essential part of fulfilling their ambitions.


    There is a more interesting (none / 0) (#217)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:01:04 AM EST
    story that fits the Lady Macbeth narrative.

    Tom Noe always was a bit of a hustler and it was said that he had political ambitions, but his first wife and the mother of their children didn't support those ambitions, preferring home life to public life.  When he divorced her and married Bernadette, his career and ambitions changed markedly.  (Ironically, one of the conditions of Tom Noe's plea deals was that Bernadette not be charged.  Doesn't imply innocence to me!)
    In that case, I think you can see what happens when one person switches partners.  But without a compare/contrast like that, it's difficult to say the exact influence a partner has without hard evidence.


    It's all about Hillary (2.33 / 3) (#236)
    by MissBrainerd on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:17:31 AM EST
    There are people here who will not let go of hating Obama for any and all reasons they can find, only because they are so mad about Hillary losing.

    They need Obama to lose to prove that somehow, they were right. Forget the polling that shows him ahead of McCain in all the states they claim only Hillary can win.

    Hillary and Obama are appearing at a fundraiser togehter next week. Maybe one day her supporters will follow the lead of the one they revere.


    It's not (3.66 / 6) (#266)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:53:19 AM EST
    about Hillary. It's about Obama. Obama simply isn't qualified to be President. He has bad judgement and has shown no leadership during his short time in the senate. Quit blaming Hillary for all of Obama's short comings.

    Don't hold your breath (2.33 / 3) (#245)
    by riddlerandy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:28:41 AM EST
    A good percentage of them would like to see McCain win just so they can say "I told you so."  Very sad.

    I call (none / 0) (#144)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:18:38 AM EST
    it like I see it. So do a lot of others around here. I'm not going to be an ostrich cheerleader. I've been there and done that. If you want to be one that's your right. It's also my right not to be one.

    You obviously aren't old enough to remember the Carter administration or you would be seeing the same thing. Carter was a disaster as a President. He was bad enough to set off 12 YEARS of GOP rule.

    How is saying that Michelle will have to take responsibility for what she wrote an attack? The poster was saying that Michelle's attitude is due to the fact of a roommate requesting a switch because of her race. Does this justify what she said? I don't think so.


    Michelle needs to be responsible for Michelle (none / 0) (#212)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:49:05 AM EST
    I can't comment on her thesis bc I haven't read it, but she can't claim it should be 'hands off' because she's just the spouse and at the same time be a big part of the campaign.

    Roommate stories (5.00 / 1) (#141)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:13:16 AM EST
    are a dime a dozen.

    In this case, it wasn't even the roomie, but the roomie's mother.  Makes me pity the roomie more than Michelle.


    Maybe the roomie's (1.00 / 1) (#163)
    by ding7777 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:14:32 AM EST
    mother was just like Obama's grandmother... "typical white person"

    Um (none / 0) (#150)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:30:07 AM EST
    I really doubt that Michelle chose her thesis topic due to the roommate situation.

    There is nothing wrong (5.00 / 0) (#40)
    by MKS on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:17:27 AM EST
    with Michelle's Princeton thesis.....

    Sean Hannity may hope so but he is a nut.....

    Do you think voters will agree with you? (5.00 / 0) (#43)
    by MarkL on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:18:18 AM EST
    I don't, based on what I have read of it.

    Yes, a fair reading of (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by MKS on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:24:08 AM EST
    the thesis is no problem....She was exploring her identity as an African American.....After her roommate was moved because her mother did not want her daughter to room with a black, it seems fine with me.....

    Michelle obviously faced ugly racism at Princeton.....

    I say let the wingers and Hannity deal with that ugliness....they'll lay off Michelle after that.  Those who take offense to the thesis wouldn't vote for Obama anyway.  


    Do you have any evidence for this? (none / 0) (#162)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:13:10 AM EST
    Michelle obviously faced ugly racism at Princeton.....

    other than the talk that her roommate's mother wanted her out of the room?  I'd be very interested to know if she faced a lot of ugly racism at Princeton and, if so, the specifics.


    note that.... (5.00 / 2) (#167)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:19:59 AM EST
    the story is not about the roommate (i.e. the person she knew at Princeton) but about the roommate's mother.   This wasn't about racism at Princeton at all --

    well, i'd be interested if it were true (none / 0) (#177)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:38:31 AM EST
    I really would.

    I've looked at some the published stuff on her thesis - it didn't strike me that badly, more like just weak, story-telling sociology, but I'm biased that way.


    It is endless (5.00 / 5) (#52)
    by MKS on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:29:24 AM EST
    The resentment extends to Michelle Obama, who is being criticized on much the same basis as Hillary in 1992:  too opinionated, not deferential enough, a liability, etc.

    Its not her fault (5.00 / 3) (#106)
    by Edgar08 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:34:56 AM EST
    but those attacks are there and so she becomes perceived as divisive.

    Michelle is sooo polarizing. (5.00 / 1) (#204)
    by Salo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:33:31 AM EST
    Why she's th enew Hillary.  snark.

    Yep. Unless you are a stepford wife (5.00 / 0) (#249)
    by beachmom on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:32:35 AM EST
    you will be attacked.

    Look at the overall treatment of these (5.00 / 0) (#62)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:39:56 AM EST
    women from the media. You really don't need to be specific. I was actually amused seeing THK on stage stumping with MO with the media was in the Obama camp.

    Thread Cleaned (5.00 / 6) (#102)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:26:42 AM EST
    of personal insults to the Obamas, off topic insults and race-baiting. Please stick to the topics in the post.

    I totally agree (5.00 / 1) (#104)
    by MikeDitto on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:34:06 AM EST
    I think a makeover is due what with the abuse she has taken. It's a natural evolution into the general campaign mode, and a common maneuver as a campaign progresses.

    I also agree that they can't spend too much time emphasizing themselves as poverty-stricken, or once poverty-stricken. The whole "working in a mill" thing that Edwards did seemed so dishonest coming out of a guy who is clearly very wealthy. It may have been true, but that bit of his history was distant from the current reality. Truth isn't always believable.

    To the degree that it's relevant, they should of course talk about their formative experiences, but that doesn't mean it has to be the dominant narrative of the campaign. They do need to connect with regular people, but so far that doesn't seem to be much of an obstacle.

    What they really are doing I think is preparing to blunt future attacks. And that's what they'll have to do, because McCain certainly can't win on dazzle, so he's going to have to work hard to tear down Obama.

    internationally, not just domestically (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:00:45 AM EST
    One of the things I liked about Hillary was the fact that she had traveled so much internationally and had gotten to know not only the world leaders but their wives and children as well. And it seemed to me that now when our reputation around the world has become so Bush-trashed, that we would need someone like Hillary who would be able to speak to the foreign leaders' whole family one to one on a first name basis and say look, the nation is under a new leadership, one that is not like Bush at all. Things have already begun to change in a positive cooperative direction.

    MO has not struck me as a person who is capable of doing that, at least not yet. I do hope, for the sake of the country, that she is willing and able to try.

    Same as always... (5.00 / 13) (#118)
    by OrangeFur on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:06:22 AM EST
    The woman needs a makeover--be a little softer, a little less lawyerly.

    No, no sexism here. It's all in our imaginations.

    Bingo, OrangeFur (5.00 / 4) (#214)
    by stxabuela on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:53:27 AM EST
    Heaven knows we "little ladies" must be demure and know our places.  Will it never end?    

    I dread the coming days but I have courage (5.00 / 3) (#120)
    by SamJohnson on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:09:46 AM EST
    I'm not concern trolling, but my entire life has been as a witness and fierce defender of women, including women of color from being silenced, degraded and dismissed as ancillary props. It killed my mother, and my father could not have cared less. I owe everything to my mother and women and that I will never, ever forget. I think the media will take the permission they took on the sexism issue, and use it as s step ladder to really be both racist and sexist. Democrats are appalled by the race card, mostly, but Republicans tend to thrive on making us fight against each other for every reason available. Regardless of my feelings of being deserted when the incoming was getting very intense on Hillary - she had the entire deck of cards thrown at her -  I am a Democrat and a man born in the fifties. Fighting both racism and sexism and classism will be what I continue to do, because that is who I am. I would do it just top prevent my friends - many working class and middle class white men and women, and many women and people of color -  from having an all out war declared against them. They don't deserve to suffer. I think Michelle Obama has the right to learn the ropes, and I'm going to support her. She doesn't deserve special treatment, but I'm giving her special consideration. I may feel wounded, but this is my battle too. The media makes over people into monsters and heroes without anyone's permission. They are not my friends. Neither are sexists or racists or classists.

    Oh, here it comes (5.00 / 2) (#260)
    by goldberry on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:46:43 AM EST
    "let's give her special consideration because she is a woman of color"
    You know, for a post-racial candidate, race sure does come up a lot with Obama.  
    Did Hillary deserve to suffer?  I think not but suffer she did and as the old saying goes, "What does not kill you makes you stronger."
    Michelle needs to toughen up.  A presidential campaign and four years in the White House are no garden party.  I never once heard Hillary complain about the time she spent on the road or how hard it was when Bill was running.  
    I expect no less from Michelle.  This is what she signed up for.  No excuses, no special consideration, no breaks.  
    I want to see her busting her butt everyday and doing it with a smile on her face and a song in her heart.  
    And no, I don't like her.  Even when I briefly flirted with supporting Obama last year, I didn't like her.  She just grates on me.  

    How (5.00 / 7) (#135)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 05:45:13 AM EST
    effective can a makeover be when it's being announced in the press? It would seem to me to be undercutting the very goal of the makeover.

    Hillary could have said that! (5.00 / 3) (#147)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:24:17 AM EST
    After all, Bill was the first Bubba to make it to the White House.

    To be honest, I thought Michelle's remark was a bit silly.  It's great that the first Whatever makes it to the top spot, but outside of pure symbolism, it doesn't necessarily mean that the average Whatever will have a better life because of it.

    Women know that better than anyone, especially after the primaries.  Instead of showing the increased acceptability of women in power, it seemed to show the opposite.

    If she could just be more measured about what she (5.00 / 3) (#153)
    by Mshepnj on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:38:26 AM EST
    says off the cuff, that should do it. I don't think it's not her lawyerliness that's the problem but her tendency to say things that sound entitled, elitist or not proud to be an American.

    It's one thing to criticize the government - it's another thing to sound like she doesn't love her country. I think she DOES love her country, it's just a matter of how she has said certain things in the past and I'm not sure she will overcome that between now and election day.  

    What irks me about this whole thing is the same thing that irked me about how Hillary Clinton was perceived as First Lady. Both of them are strong, smart, outspoken women who should not have to apologize for being that way. The fact that she has to be "softened" really speaks to the problem that women face in any high-profile position.

    Well, that settles that then! (5.00 / 4) (#179)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:43:04 AM EST
    Axelrod rejection of NYT piece (none / 0) (#184)
    by Munibond on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:47:13 AM EST
    seems strange, as the substance of that article, particularly the flattering quotes about MO's work in the Mayor's office and at U of C, likely came from an Obama media consultant.  If this is a harbinger of media GE coverage, Axelrod should be quite pleased.  Perhaps he was embarrassed by the obviousness of the puffery.

    Unfortunately, (5.00 / 1) (#165)
    by Nike on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:17:50 AM EST
    the media (I am thinking of Fox) will probably subtly play up the anti entititled-affirmative action line with Michelle. They will say she is ungrateful to have gone to Princeton on a scholarship, ungrateful to have been a success in America. She has helped to give them that line and I expect to hear more about her college thesis. That said, I think she has positioned herself to be a traditional, husband adoring first lady and some parts of the media will be happy to emphasize how Michelle hews 1950's gender lines by talking about keeping her house in order, etc. She reminds me more of Laura Bush than, say, the previous first lady. She comes across as a woman who supports her man and it is through this support that she achieves her ambitions. Very heterosexist traditional. Thus, desipte the impressive cv, she does not strike me as an obviously "feminist" First Lady and this should be reassuring to many voters--as long as Cutler can do her job well.  A fluff piece in the NYT is a good start. The more banal they can make her, the better for Obama's campaign.

    The scholarship to Princeton (none / 0) (#181)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:44:15 AM EST
    Was merit-based, was it not?

    I think you are right (none / 0) (#243)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:28:12 AM EST
    about the thesis.  David Bose(sp?) is heading a group that has made a film about Obama, which sounds like it is about her just as much, and that seemed to be one of their big bullet items.
    it will be hard to make it stick I think.  it was to long ago.

    You have an issue (none / 0) (#256)
    by mkevinf on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:42:17 AM EST
    with naming the "previous First Lady"?

    It's more of the same hypocrisy that flow from (5.00 / 2) (#169)
    by carmel on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:26:40 AM EST
    the Obama's so easily. Are we really supposed to look at the "New Michelle" and say "Oh Goodie, she's just like Jackie O"? I will be interested to read about the marketing, selling and propagandizing of the Obama presidency in the years to come. The only problem with Obama, he is just like a Bush, only I'm afraid Bush is better. Why should women come to Michelle's defense after the horrible way she allowed Hillary to be treated? Oh yes, because Hillary supporters do the right thing.

    The thing I dislike about the term (5.00 / 3) (#172)
    by Anne on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:30:39 AM EST
    "makeover," is that it implies that what we're talking about is all on the surface: make someone look better and they feel better about themselves, and others perhaps respond to them better.  We could go down the road of why it is that we always have to look a certain way in order to feel worthwhile, but that's another whole subject.

    And then there's the image makeover, where nothing about a person's appearance will be changed, at least in any significant way, but he or she will be better at manipulating how others view him or her by co-opting the media to present him or her in the best light possible so as to change people's perceptions about the person.

    I'm sure the litigators out there know all about image makeover - how a client dresses for court, whether the family is there en masse behind the defendant, all dressed and packaged to get the jury to see them as humans - someone's husband, father, son, brother - to take the edge off the negatives associated with the crimes they are charged with.  We all know that even if we are only going to court to fight a traffic ticket, we go in nice clothes, impeccably groomed and comport ourselves with deference and respect.  That's image and we all use it when we have to to get what we want.

    I have to think that the makeover of Michelle Obama might be better accomplished and more effective without the announcement - you know, let the subtle changes work their way into people's consciousness and have them thinking, "maybe I judged her too quickly - she seems like a great person," instead of "oh, sure - now she's Miss Nicey-Nice, but we know underneath, she's the same beeyotch she always was."  

    And the problem with image makeovers is that the longer they have to be maintained, the greater the chances that the person will crack at some point from the tension of being two different people; you just know that as hard as they are working to change her image, the more leaks there will be about what's going on behind the curtain.

    Announcing the makeover just seems boneheaded to me.

    Oh, okay - so that means what, exactly? (5.00 / 1) (#194)
    by Anne on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:16:02 AM EST
    That no makeover is underway because Axelrod denied it?

    So, the timing of all this coverage of the "real" Michelle, the softening of her hard edges and the emphasis on her good works, is just a big coincidence, I guess.

    You think what you want, but I will stick with the old saying, "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."  


    Perhaps you should follow the links (5.00 / 3) (#199)
    by Anne on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:28:46 AM EST
    provided in Jeralyn's post, which would have taken you to her post from Monday, which contained this item:

    In addition, the campaign has hired Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter to work as chief of staff for Michelle Obama. Her first order of business will be to buff and polish the image of the candidate's wife, who has been the target of sharp attacks in recent weeks.

    Emphasis is mine.

    See how easy that was?


    News cycles, news cycles (none / 0) (#187)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:50:27 AM EST
    and news cycles.

    I have to admit that Bush/Cheney/Rove taught me that some things work.  One of them is capturing news cycles by creating stories with positive spin to keep negative stories from gaining traction.  Even though the Dem Congress did less than I wanted them to in terms of impeachment, those DOJ hearings certainly grabbed headlines and generated some choice sound bites.  Result?  Less spinning about how we are "making progress" in Iraq and more black eyes for the Bush administration.

    (How's Iraq doing?  
    Let us tell you all about the schools we've opened!)

    Grab those headlines and never ever let them go.  Fill them full of fluff if you have to, but never let your opponents get a word in edgewise.  

    And at least, for once,  the Obama campaign is doing something proactive instead of reactive.  

    BTW - I think this actually falls under the heading of "reaching out to Clinton supporters" because a) We are all women.  and b) Women prefer talking about the person and not issues and policies.  Ridiculous, I know.  


    Michelle, when asked if she would work (5.00 / 4) (#173)
    by bslev22 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:31:47 AM EST
    to elect Senator Clinton, would not commit to that kind of unity.  I guess Jeralyn is admonishing someone like me to forgive Michelle for that comment.  But do not folks usually ask first for forgiveness?

    Is this the type of criticism that warrants being deleted Jeralyn?  Respectfully, have at it then.

    Sorry Jeralyn. (none / 0) (#186)
    by bslev22 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:50:15 AM EST
    You didn't deserve that.

    Al Gore slept in a bedroom (5.00 / 6) (#174)
    by BernieO on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:33:05 AM EST
    with his sister when they lived in their residence hotel in DC or so I have read.

    As for Michelle's family, they were clearly middle class. Her mom was able to stay home and take care of the children and her dad had a good job with the city. She also attended good schools. I think the media is so used to living in luxury that they forget that many Americans who are middle class (albeit blue collar) do not live in palaces, yet are not poor. I grew up in a small town in southern Ohio and many people lived in modest homes with few bedrooms, and one bathroom but were clearly middle class. None of these kids went to an Ivy League school (they would not have wanted the debt), but most did go to college even though their parents had not. This was true for both black and white students. They were as likely to be football stars, top students, etc. as the few well-to-do kids. The poor kids lived in shacks and dropped out at 16 - usually when they were still in elementary school, which made for some funny class pictures.
    Because Michelle's family lived in an expensive city, their home was even smaller but that did not make her poor or disadvantaged.

    When Michelle needs Caroline Kennedy to sit (5.00 / 1) (#188)
    by carmel on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:50:43 AM EST
    with her for an interview, that is very telling. By saying that Michelle "needs" a makeover, the campaign is already admitting that they think the general public is not ready to accept the "authentic" Michelle. I think the campaign and Michelle would be better served by allowing Michelle to sit for interviews without a babysitter, and just be herself, and let her evolve so to speak. I have a problem with the "selling of a candidate", and I have an even bigger problem when it reaches the selling of the "candidate's wife". Are we to believe there is no sexism here? This is how they win over the (a) white male vote and/or (b) womens vote?

    the problem is.... (5.00 / 4) (#201)
    by p lukasiak on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:32:33 AM EST
    that America would never accept an honest Michelle Obama.

    Michelle Obama is the personification of all the class/race/gender issues rolled into one.  She's an intelligent black woman from a working class family who lived in a defacto segregated city, who EARNED a scholarship to Princeton, and was confronted with the reality of race, class, and gender in American society all at once.  And Princeton is probably the most status conscious of the Ivy League schools... its not quite "Hahvahd" or Yale, but "better than" Penn or Columbia.  Its also the most disconnected from an urban environment...

    Unfortunately, presidential campaigns aren't the best "teaching moments" for honest discussions about race, gender, and class -- and an "honest" Michelle Obama would inevitably wind up expressing the legitimate anger and frustration of the African American community -- and be damned for doing so.


    Polls and a makeover (5.00 / 2) (#196)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:19:43 AM EST
    Every Candidate and likely every spouse gets instructed in how to handle the media. What will be interesting long term is to see how this form of sexism is viewed. I suggest quite well as Michelle is asked to act like wives before her and bake cookies. Wonder how Bill would have handled a staff attempt at a makeover.

    On an Obama good note today. Three monster polls out by Quinnipiac.

    Pennsylvania Obama +12
    Ohio         Obama +6
    Florida      Obama +4

    This is what I'm laying my money on (5.00 / 3) (#198)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:28:19 AM EST
    And it bothers me, because it will not at all reflect a new understanding of sexism now that the shoe's on the other foot, but rather just the sheep changing direction as the sheepdogs bark from the other side.

    A whole lot of self-serving, false progress.

    Kinda Funny (5.00 / 2) (#202)
    by northeast73 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:32:54 AM EST
    That you needed to tell people to refrain from saying "mean" things about Mrs. Obama.

    Is that because everytime her name is mentioned, it brings out, uh, comments from people even here on a Dem site?

    Sorry, but everytime I mention Michelle to ANYONE, the reaction is ...UGH....

    I find the whole "makeover"thing to be so typical of the Obama campaign.  To me, they are all about manipulation of the media, the public....very "madison avenue" campaign.

    And for the record, no matter WHAT Michelle Obama says or does, I just will not think it is genuine...just like Obama.  

    I hope (5.00 / 2) (#210)
    by Lil on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:42:26 AM EST
    I get to know her in a better way, because I don't like her. I feel ashamed of that for some reason, like I should like her. I keep thinking that maybe I don't really know her and my opinion will change. I do think she is a liability, even though I hate that the media and culture often demonize strong First Ladies.

    You are Right (none / 0) (#219)
    by CoralGables on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:03:01 AM EST
    In that it is the exact same way they demonized Hillary who also got softer over time as First Lady. As a woman (which I am not) it appears you have to fight like hell behind the scenes to move up but better remember to reveal the soft side in public. Phony? Maybe. A winning formula? Absolutely.

    I find her sort of unlikeable also (none / 0) (#220)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:03:23 AM EST
    and I share some of your guilt because its hard to put your finger on exactly why because if I am honest with myself it has very little to do with her controversial statements.  it just seems more like a gut feeling.  
    the thing is, I dont think most people will struggle with these feelings and I know that many people share them from the email I get.  in fact, she seems even less popular than him with the "low information" Hillary type supporters.  hence, no doubt, the makeover.
    it will be interesting to see how well it works.

    Not buying the product (5.00 / 4) (#216)
    by bmc on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:57:23 AM EST
    Still not voting for Barack Obama. Not voting for the on-the-job-training of this "presumptive" nominee; not voting for the new gentler-kinder-softer wife; not voting for the takeover of the Democratic Party; not voting for the Chicago DNC, a new wholly-owned subsidiary of Obama, Inc.

    On the job training (3.00 / 4) (#257)
    by beachmom on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:42:36 AM EST
    The fact is Obama is an excellent executive, and he has excellent advisors and surrogates, some of whom like, say, Richard Clarke, I assume you used to like.  The truth is no experience prepares you for the presidency.  And experience has never predicted how good a president a person will be.  Some of our worst presidents had years and years of Washington experience, while some of our best, most notably Lincoln, had next to no experience.  In short, it is ALWAYS on the job training for a new president, no matter what is on their resume.

    I am confident Obama will be not just competent but an extraordinary president.  Maybe some day my enthusiasm will rub off on you.  


    I think she was a huge asset with AA's (5.00 / 1) (#227)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:07:37 AM EST
    They identified with her.  She is authentic to them.  Recall, Hillary was still garnering most of the support in the AA community, until the last 5-6 months.   AA's were reluctant to support Obama, himself, for quite a long time.  He was not seen "like them," and for the most part, his life was nothing like their lives.

    Didn't Hillary try this when she *was* First Lady? (5.00 / 1) (#232)
    by goldberry on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:14:18 AM EST
    I seem to remember an interview where she wore a pink outfit and she had short bobbed hair, bangs and maybe a black hair band.    Might have been with Baba Wawa or Leslie Stahl or some other woman journalist.  It was all very "let's makeover Hillary and soften her image" crap just like this.  And how did that go?  Oh, yeah.  
    It didn't.  
    Frankly, I don't know why Michelle expects different treatment than Hillary got.  She's educated and opinionated.  That was a definite no-no for Hillary and in some ways, she is much more abrasive than Hillary.  Some of Michelle's statements have been just clueless and rude.  
    Plus, if the Jackie Kennedy image didn't cut it, what's next?  Martha Stewart?

    it would be nice (5.00 / 2) (#247)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:30:13 AM EST
    if some potential first lady, she might be the one, would just say "stuff your makeover, Im just fine the way I am".
    that would be most refreshing.

    That was Howard Dean's wife's approach (5.00 / 2) (#261)
    by ruffian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:47:15 AM EST
    Did not work well electorally, but I applaud her effort. That approach requires someone that does not think her husband being president is the most important thing in the history of the world. By this time in the contest it seems that most of these women are so invested in their husband winnign that they are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

    That may have even been where the 'Hillary will do or say anything to win' meme started - when she donned that pink suit and headband in 1992.


    Wow (5.00 / 3) (#248)
    by lilburro on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:32:35 AM EST
    The NYTimes is going to live blog her View appearance.  So glad we've got someone on the Michelle Obama daytime talk show appearance beat.  <snark>

    As a Hillary supporter, (5.00 / 1) (#251)
    by mkevinf on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:34:24 AM EST
     there were some comments Michelle made that I thought were inappropriate, e.g., the "she can't get her own house in order...", and the "I'd have to think about it" remarks.  But I never saw her as an "angry black woman".

    Notwithstanding those bumps, I've always liked her and felt that she was far more authentic than her husband.  Whether the Obamas want to acknowledged this or not, they have the potential to be the political equivalents of Bill and Hillary Clinton, which I know will bring howls from some Obamanistas, i.e. Obama supporters who see Barack as transcendental rather than the extraordinary politician that he is.

    Like Jerlyn, I hope they don't constrain the spontaneity and warmth out of Michelle. Sure, she's got to be aware that in the end, the media goes for the political "if it bleeds, it leads" material, but to me she seems like a quick study. It's a surprise to me, to be honest, but Michelle Obama is one reason why I am finding it easier to vote for her husband in the fall.

    Mixed Feelings (5.00 / 5) (#258)
    by nell on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:43:00 AM EST
    I have very mixed feelings about Michelle Obama.

    In the same way that I admired Hillary as First Lady for being strong and independent, I admire Michelle Obama. In many ways, I think she is more qualified to be President than her husband.

    However, Michelle has said some things on the campaign trail that I have serious issues with. She has made sexist comments on the campaign trail directed at Hillary, she has capitalized on the Hillary hate, and never once acknowledged Hillary's historic run (I think she maybe said something about it at the very end).

    She REALLY lost me when she said that she wasn't sure if she would support for Hillary in November, it would depend on her "tone." Ever since then, I have decided to take Michelle's cue and have decided that I would make a decision about supporting Obama in November depending on his "tone."

    No matter what she has said about Hillary, I hope that she will be spared the disgusting and vile sexist attacks that were leveled at Hillary as First Lady and as a Presidential candidate and I will certainly speak out if she is subjected to such attacks. I also hope that being in the spotlight will give Michelle a little bit of empathy for what Hillary went through, something she was really lacking during the campaign trail. She was a little too willing to jump on the Hillary hating bandwagon and that really makes me uncomfortable.

    In terms of the way she will be viewed, I think she needs to paint a less pessimistic future for the country. My dad (an independent), who was a staunch Hillary supporter and is now backing McCain, said in an off-hand way a few weeks ago that he was really put off by her when he heard her talking about what a mean country America is. As an immigrant, this country has given him every opportunity in the world and he just could not believe that a woman who was educated at Princeton and Harvard and who may get to be the country's First Lady would be talking about what a mean country it is...whether he is right or wrong in his assessment, I will say that I do not think he is alone in this sentiment...and it is not just the right wingers who find this kind of thing off putting about Michelle.  

    On the Job Training Reply (5.00 / 4) (#263)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:49:16 AM EST
    Obama is not Lincoln

    From LA Times:

    Yes, Lincoln spent only two years in the House after winning election in 1846. Yet his deep involvement in state and national politics began in 1832, the same year he was elected a captain in the Illinois militia -- and 28 years before he ran for president. He then served as leader of the Illinois Whig Party and served his far-from-undistinguished term in Congress courageously leading opposition to the Mexican War.

    After returning home, he became one of the leading railroad lawyers in the country, emerged as an outspoken antislavery leader of Illinois' Republican Party -- and then, in 1858, ran unsuccessfully for the Senate and engaged with Stephen A. Douglas in the nation's most important debates over slavery before the Civil War. It behooves the champions of any candidate to think carefully when citing similarities to Lincoln's record. In this case, the comparison is absurd.

    She will probably take well (5.00 / 1) (#264)
    by catfish on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:49:43 AM EST
    She seems more focused and driven (that is a compliment) than her husband. So if this "makeover" (ugh it feels sexist to use that word) is what she needs to do, I predict she will take to the coaching well.

    She needs to learn to listen, as does her husband.

    sure sounds like sexism to me (5.00 / 1) (#265)
    by DandyTIger on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:51:00 AM EST
    to say Michelle needs a makeover. I guess they don't think she's dainty enough. Maybe if she just had her hair in a bun. Oh brother.

    Sounds like Axelrod has said this is not true. Though with Michelle on the view, I'm not sure Axelrid isn't spinning right now instead. But who knows.

    I wish Michelle had seen more in her younger years (5.00 / 0) (#267)
    by ruffian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:55:24 AM EST
    Her views seem very rooted in her Chicago upbringing and she could have benefitted from more exposure to other parts of the country. I understand wanting to do something for her own community where she was raised, but she would have learned more by taking a job in L.A. or Atlanta after Princeton

    I think she is a very capable person though, and would be an asset to the country as first lady.

    She seems warm and affectionate with her family, and I think that translates well to voters.

    Stepford Wife (5.00 / 1) (#269)
    by Arabella Trefoil on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:58:07 AM EST
    The NY Times has an article about Michelle Obama's "make over." Did they put her through some kind of Stepford Wife plasticizing process?

    I don't even like the Obamas, but this is so insulting to Michelle Obama. And all women.


    auntie em: (5.00 / 1) (#275)
    by cpinva on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 11:01:28 AM EST
    hate you, hate kansas, took the dog.

    does this include a psychological makeover as well? if not, don't waste the time, effort and money.

    she has issues. we all have issues. most of us grow up and get over them. she apparently can't.

    the fact that she said nothing about the sexist comments being leveled at sen. clinton did it for me. she injected herself into the campaign with public appearances on her husband's behalf, she's estopped from now claiming "just spouse" status. same as with cheney's lesbian daughter.

    with her resume', she should know how the political game is played by now, and she's already been through at least two other campaigns with her husband (oh, wait, he had no opposition!), so she should have a clue. that's not going to change miraculously overnite.

    but, good luck with the (non)makeover, we'll see if it changes anyone's opinion.

    "out damn spot!"

    $10,000 on dance, music & sports....poor me (5.00 / 1) (#278)
    by chopper on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 11:26:23 AM EST
    Michelle is a one woman pity party. (She obviously drank in the victim sermons she heard from Rev. Wright all those Sundays.) Who in their right mind would whine to a group of struggling working class women about "having" to spend $10,000 on dance, music and sports for their kids? Or tell them to pass up high paying jobs in the corporate world in order to take jobs helping others like she and Barack have done? That six figure salary sure is a huge sacrifice.....

    This is what she said to those women:
    "I know we're spending -- I added it up for the first time -- we spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we're spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements and so on and so forth," Mrs. Obama tells the women. "And summer programs. That's the other huge cost. Barack is saying, `Whyyyyyy are we spending that?' And I'm saying, `Do you know what summer camp costs?'"


    (Bet those women don't know how much a summer camp is. They are too focused on the cost of a loaf of bread.)

    I have read several times that Michelle often complains about how hard she and Barack have had it financially, especially since they had loans to those high class Ivy League schools to pay off. Funny, my kids choose to go to good state schools rather than take on huge loans, but now they should feel sorry for and Barack Michelle.

    When the Obamas decided they just had to live in a mansion that they could not afford, did they lower their sights like normal, responsible people and find a place that fit their budget? Heck no. They sought help from a man under investigation from the Feds for corruption. I can just hear Michelle telling Barack that she just could not survive any longer in a less grand abode. She comes across as a diva who feels that she is entitled to the best whether she can afford it or not. Both Barack and Michelle seem to believe they are entitled to things - whether it is a mansion or the presidency -without waiting until they have made the necessary preparations that are expected of other people. It is this sense of entitlement that underlies the Obamas' hubris and is his Achilles' heel.

    I feel sorry for Michelle. (4.81 / 11) (#67)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:43:21 AM EST
    She really has no idea what is coming her way.  It will be ugly, and it will be misogynistic, and the women who normally would have supported her and stood up against such tactics, will not be there.  Those women were all supporting Hillary when Michelle (and Barack) decided winning was more important than standing up for principle, and no longer have effective voices because they have been dismissed as racists or irrelevant, second-wave feminists.  It will be interesting to watch how effective the Obama girl generation will be in counteracting the tsunami to come.

    Some Clinton dems no doubt (5.00 / 5) (#85)
    by FemB4dem on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:59:37 AM EST
    will defend Michelle when the tsunami hits.  My point was that the most effective voices -- Hillary herself, Gerry Ferraro, Gloria Steinam, Ellen Malcolm, etc., have been trashed by the media in so many ways on this issue that it will be difficult for them to make the points that should be made, and will need to be heard.  

    And does anyone think that Olbermann, Matthews, Cafferty, et al., will be in a position to extend any assistance to Michelle on misogyny given what they did to Hillary?  I don't.  The media allowed misogyny to rule -- good luck to Michelle in operating under the rules she and Barack applauded with their silence.


    KO will defend her, no doubt about it! (5.00 / 2) (#89)
    by NO2WONDERBOY on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:02:47 AM EST
    Personally, I think they al will... (5.00 / 2) (#142)
    by Maria Garcia on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:13:32 AM EST
    ...just to try prove they aren't sexist pigs.

    You're right, and (5.00 / 5) (#97)
    by Esme on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:09:05 AM EST
    this is exactly the reason that so many of us were saying that the misogynistic treatment of Hillary had to be called out. It wasn't about her, but about all women. The Media, and the DNC have let this sort of women hating attitude reach such a fever pitch that Keith Olbermann can label Katie Couric as "Worst Person in the World" for daring to call out the sexism that Clinton faced.

    Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that sexism and misogyny will be addressed by the entire country, and Michelle, Hillary, and all women will no longer have to endure such shameful, backwards, disgusting attacks.


    A woman who does not speak up (5.00 / 9) (#109)
    by Cream City on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:39:18 AM EST
    when in a position to do so against sexism and misogyny does not get "defended" by me.  Pitied, yes.  

    But I have seen too many women benefitting from both the strides made by strong women before them -- and from attacks against those women.  That duplicitousness is not deserving of being defended.

    She will have plenty of media willing to jump to her defense now, as they have their own duplicitous game to play now to show that they weren't being sexist and misogynistic in the primary.  They will leap to the defense just to show that it was about Clinton.  Besides, the Other Obama can just call out any attacks as racist, for which the media falls so easily.

    And that's not a game that any feminist needs to get into again.  There are too many women and children truly in need of us.


    Amen (5.00 / 6) (#185)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:49:00 AM EST
    It's inexcusable what some women let happen to Hillary, I don't care if they liked her candidacy, positions, or whatever. It makes me sick. It was bad enough having fauxgressive men go along with it, but the silence of women is repellent.

    Every time I hear a lecture about voting for Obama to protect women's rights or defending Michelle from sexist attacks, I ask 'were you silent about the unprecedented sexism during this primary or did you speak out'?

    You reap what you sow - my momma told me that.


    If I had to pick one of the 2 (4.50 / 2) (#7)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:15:17 AM EST
    to be effective, it would be her. I get the impression she's decisive and not afraid to roll her sleeves up and dig in. She also loses me when she goes into I feel your pain mode and it makes me critical of them because I feel it's false. That said, out of the 2 candidates and their wives, she's the one I would pick for my team. I think we would work well together, lol!~

    If she does manage to come across a bit better for  the masses, I think she'll be a real boost to him.

    Perhaps, (4.00 / 2) (#103)
    by Grace on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:32:15 AM EST
    she should be the one running for President instead of looking for the spot of First Lady?  

    Honestly, I love that "decisive" "roll up the sleeves and dig in" thing.  To me, that sounds like a leader.  


    Too ambitious! ;-) (5.00 / 1) (#139)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:01:51 AM EST
    I, too, have thought that thought.  But what-evah would the press say?

    See, I never had a problem with Michelle (4.33 / 3) (#1)
    by sociallybanned on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:05:17 AM EST
    I hate the idea of the media picking on the wives and children.  Yes, granted she stated she was finally proud to be an American was a bit off but she is human.  Now.... in regards to casting my vote to her husband, it is still out of the question.

    maybe she'll change your mind (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:06:34 AM EST
    hear her out.

    Children should be out of bounds (4.50 / 4) (#15)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:34:34 AM EST
    but spouses who are campaigning can be criticized for things they do or say while campaigning.

    If a spouse gives a speech, then whatever's in the speech is in play.  It's a very difficult role, having no 'official' role in the campaign or the office but being under the spotlight anyway, and I don't envy anyone whose role it is.  But you can't have it both ways.  You can't campaign one day and then declare you're inviolate the next.

    Michelle is neither here nor there for me, since I'm not voting for her husband.  But I have pretty mixed feelings about a PR makeover.  If it were limited to communicating her accomplishments better, that would be one thing.  But as it bleeds over (if it does) into her clothes and makeup and gooey image projection, then I think it fairly opens up criticism of those things as well.  (I mean criticism, not obsessive harping.)


    Spouses subject (none / 0) (#126)
    by lynnebrad on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:23:01 AM EST
    I don't agree that just because you campaign you are subject to attack. When John Kerry or Joe Lieberman support their respective candidate, they don't get personally attacked for what they say. The candidate is the one who gets attacked for what they say. Similarly why should the spouse get attacked?

    wha? (5.00 / 1) (#228)
    by wasabi on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:09:03 AM EST
    Apparently you never heard all the ludicrous things said about Theresa Kerry.

    It depends what they say. (none / 0) (#140)
    by Fabian on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:08:04 AM EST
    I thought the Michelle/Cindy "proud" brouhaha was one of the most ridiculous controversies of the election.  It may have been fascinating if they sat both women down and had separate interviews about pride and patriotism and love of country, but creating some kind of scandal out of a couple sentences was tabloid trivia, not headline news.

    (Not going to reference any of the many other ridiculous cherry picked phrases in the primary.)


    For pete's sake, please read (none / 0) (#203)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:32:56 AM EST
    Nowhere did I say it's ok to 'attack' spouses.

    I never did either (none / 0) (#229)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:11:41 AM EST
    I find her stronger and more likeable than her husband.  HOWEVER,  I really resented her complaining about the school loans.  She and her busband benefitted greatly from their Ivy League educations.  Also, I suspect they both enjoyed loan forgiveness through Harvard Law School by doing government service and public service.  Harvard has been historically geneerous to those who do that.  

    I'll admit it (4.33 / 3) (#64)
    by SoCalLiberal on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:41:22 AM EST
    I don't like Michelle O.   Unfortunately, her image is going to be important to the campaign.  I hope that Stephanie Cutter is going to be able to help her and make her more likeable and more palatable to the voting public.  And I have to say, I think it's a smart idea.  

    I really wonder (4.20 / 5) (#14)
    by LoisInCo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:32:20 AM EST
    if there isn't some underlying sexism in declaring Michelle is getting a "makeover". It just reminds me of that rant of Wright's about a woman going out with bad hair.

    It is suggesting (IMO) that a woman who is strong,intelligent, and vocal just needs to get a new hair style and pretty lipstick so that she is acceptable. And it irks me.

    Of course there is. (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:50:50 AM EST
    They do it with men also but perhaps not for the same reasons. In her case, I believe it's to 'soften' for First Lady. She seems to have done just fine as is prior to the primaries (go figure) . . . But for mass appeal, marketing steps in. Luckily, she doesn't seem like the type to go all Stepford on us  ;)

    What's gonna be funny . . . is if she runs for office down the road and has to prove she's tough enough, lol!~ I think we've seen this show before . . .


    Of course marketing is used. (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by LoisInCo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:59:45 AM EST
    But Michelle is getting a "makeover" and Obama changes his "brand". That's what I dislike.

    Remember how HIllary Clinton sd. in (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by oculus on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:03:30 AM EST
    NH that she had found her voice?  I think that is what is happening here w/Michelle Obama.

    No (5.00 / 9) (#33)
    by BDB on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:10:21 AM EST
    Michelle Obama is finding the voice of focus groups and campaign consultants, IMO.  A shame, really.   Sure, she could learn to think a bit more about her phrasing, but there was nothing wrong with her true voice.  Just as there was nothing wrong with Teresa Heinz Kerry's or Elizabeth Edwards' or Hillary Clinton's (if Hillary had to find her political voice in NH, it's only because she'd spent so much time trying to mold herself to get the media to lay off).

    The problem isn't with any of these women, it's with the media.  If you don't fit what they think a First Lady should be, an ideal formed around the time of Mamie Eisenhower, you're in for very rough treatment.


    And yet Hillary did find a way (5.00 / 1) (#207)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 08:39:59 AM EST
    to lead us out of the paradigm.  More and more people became impressed with her strength and vision.  She did change the way women are viewed.

    A PR makeover for MO isn't likely leading anywhere away from Mamie Eisenhower.

    So again, it all comes down to leadership.  If the glowing descriptions of the NYT (and truly, truly, I've never seen anything written about Hillary that sounded half so wonderful despite her being more accomplished) are true, then Michelle has a chance to do something similar.


    Skeptical (5.00 / 8) (#36)
    by Valhalla on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:13:34 AM EST
    In NH Hillary became more of herself, while all the 'makeover' talk to me indicates fluffing up to make her seem more acceptable.  I think they'd be more comparable if Clinton had undergone some sort of major cosmetic change.

    Well, (none / 0) (#230)
    by Stellaaa on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:12:10 AM EST
    An interesting thing is that I have been reading and talking to AA women and one thing that sold Obama, was that he was married to a "real black woman",  I think the make over is more than sexist.  

    But that's the state of marketing (5.00 / 2) (#34)
    by nycstray on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:11:20 AM EST
    I don't see that changing for a bit. It is getting more gender neutral in some areas, but many "products" are still gender specific. So she's getting a "makeover" and he's been branded. He's the iPod and she's the nano (look at all the cool fashion colors it comes in! /snark)

    I think we need a few more years or another generation before we get to a more even plane. The good news is, young women entering college are starting to out pace men. But until womens' apathy goes down more, we're still going to have a ways to go, imo.


    Reality? What's (5.00 / 3) (#156)
    by camellia on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:51:05 AM EST

    "But Michelle is getting a "makeover" and Obama changes his "brand". That's what I dislike" .......  absolutely!  

    It's all  a game of illusions, artifice, and mirrors.  Is anyone here old enough to remember the old TV game show "What's My Line"?   "Will the real Michelle (or Barack or Cindy or whoever) please stand up?"    Was it ever thus in politics, or is the game being played differently now?    


    Yep (5.00 / 6) (#26)
    by BDB on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:05:35 AM EST
    Gotta soften up the smart, outspoken wife.  Ask Hillary.  After healthcare, she was reduced to doing that book about letters to Socks and Buddy because, you know, that's more along the lines of what a wife does.  

    Underlying Sexism (none / 0) (#233)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:14:45 AM EST
    in the makeover to soften her?  It is not underlying sexism at all; it is blatant sexism!!!  Further, to announce it in the NYT makes any "softening" not credible.

    Jeralyn (3.00 / 1) (#114)
    by Mari on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:54:47 AM EST
    I understand you don't want the blog to descend into misogynistic or racist conversations, but M. Obama has made several controversial statements. They will affect her husband's presidential bid. Hence, the need for her makeover. Disliking her public statements and construing that those statments are a reflection of her character are not necessarily racist or sexist. These unguarded statements are clues to who she is and what type of First Lady she might be if Obama is elected.

    Re: the fist bump, I thought it was more a reflection of generational and rural/urban divide, but perhaps you are right and it was about race.

    Race is the big elephant in the room that most people are afraid to talk about for fear of sounding racist. Paradoxically, I believe it can have the opposite effect. Is Obama too "black" or "urban" to win the election? Is it racist to ponder that question?

    that is a subject (none / 0) (#116)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:01:12 AM EST
    blog commenters have shown repeatedly in the past they cannot discuss in an objective manner. It ends up with accusations and charges that someone is racist. This blog will not host those discussions.

    So, I'm sorry but if you want to discuss that, you are going to have to do it elsewhere.


    So all anyone has to do (none / 0) (#254)
    by Edgar08 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:38:51 AM EST
    As far as dealing with a legitimate criticism is show up and call someone racist.

    You may not find any other solution but you most certainly are rewarding people for accusing others of being racist.

    They don't care that you think they're immature, as long as the criticism gets silenced because they were able to divert it.


    the "fist bump" is a prime example (none / 0) (#117)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:02:28 AM EST
    and it is off-topic.

    Fair enough. n/t (none / 0) (#123)
    by Mari on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:17:53 AM EST
    Hillary and Bill (2.00 / 1) (#60)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 01:38:53 AM EST
    are professionals.  Michelle is not.

    I'm second to nobody here in dislike of her husband, but I rather like her.  Somebody here (maybe you?) said on another thread that at least the Republicans come right at you, whereas Obama does this passive-aggressive thing.  Michelle is more like the Republicans in the sense that it's all out there.  I like that.  I could imagine having one hell of a ripping good argument with her about whatever.  Her husband, not so much.

    I've often thought (none / 0) (#13)
    by 1040su on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:30:44 AM EST
    that there is a genuine parellel between the Clinton & Obama marriages.  Both Michelle & Hillary are smart, pragmatic women married to very ambitious, self-absorbed men. I'm not sure exactly why, but I like her.  

    wow, my post was deleted..Why? (none / 0) (#107)
    by mexboy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:35:39 AM EST
    I am shocked my post was deleted, since I said nothing offensive nor racist.

    I think the problem with racism in America and talking about it is that you can't make an observation about it without someone calling you racist.

    I live in Los Angeles and work in the music industry with people of all nationalities. I am considered urban by all accounts and my post being deleted baffles and bothers me.

    Jeralyn, can you please explain what in my post was offensive. I thought we could discuss ideas here. I in no way expressed dislike or disapproval of Michelle Obama on my post.

    It was race-baiting (none / 0) (#108)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:39:10 AM EST
    And engendered more of the same.

    Not intentionally, perhaps, but the code words used were taken that way. Send me an email if you want to discuss it further.



    I tried to email you (none / 0) (#110)
    by mexboy on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:41:39 AM EST
    the link does not work.
    I would like to discuss it further.

    Well I am hoping to (none / 0) (#113)
    by LoisInCo on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 02:48:01 AM EST
    see Michelle take on Elisabeth and Sherri about abortion. If they dare. Now THAT would be worth watching!

    How Likely Is It (none / 0) (#119)
    by creeper on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:07:24 AM EST
    that any changes generated by the "makeover" will be permanent?  

    I think it's rare that people change at heart.  That's why I believe the next several months are going to be telling.

    camp trail gaffs (none / 0) (#122)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 03:15:28 AM EST
    Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt about Gore's hyperbole about dog pills, BO's having visited fifty-seven states with one more left to go, and Hillary's having landed under gunfire. These people have been on the trail day after day after day after day seemingly without end. Its got to wear on them. The gaffs just remind us that Harvard and Yale grads are human.

    What happened to authentic? (none / 0) (#154)
    by Redshoes on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:45:33 AM EST
    The problem isn't with the candidates wives (I am deliberately choosing that word) but rather that one's choice of wife influences anyone's choice of who should be the leader of the free world (can you imagine the treatment Mary Todd Lincoln would receive by today's press?)

    That said,  it's one of the natural consequences confronting a media-made candidate -- the image of his wife has to be  non-threatening, cheerful and grateful -- she is after all the nation's hostess!  (Cringe)  Given that the story-line the other side is peddling, another angry (and in this case black) woman some remaking of the image and brand seems the pragmatic thing to do.

    As to the NYT piece I would have expected more from Ladies' Home Journal -- just once if they'd treat voters like adults.

    Sort of like Gore's autumnal colors, but (none / 0) (#158)
    by No Blood for Hubris on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 06:51:34 AM EST
    kind of, well, not?

    Sounds like they're airbrushing her so she gets all soft around the edges.

    Feels a little creepy.  Next thing you know she'll be giving out cookie recipes.

    David Axelrod denied the makeover story (none / 0) (#160)
    by Esme on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:01:34 AM EST
    on Morning Joe. He said that she doesn't need a make over, and when he was pressed on the issue, he denied it again emphatically.

    It's possible (none / 0) (#240)
    by MikeDitto on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 09:22:30 AM EST
    The makeover is just in terms of how the campaign will talk about her, where they'll have her serve as a surrogate for the candidate, and how the campaign responds to attacks against her, but nothing involving changing her appearance or her approach.

    But of course she's always gotten coaching on how she speaks in public and always will--campaigns are like Toastmasters on steroids. Lots of preparation before speaking and feedback afterwards so that with every speaking engagement the ship gets tighter and tighter.


    Sort of Faking It Who You Really Are Though IMO (none / 0) (#166)
    by Saul on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:19:14 AM EST
    Why do they have to first tell everyone that will are going to redo her image.  You are who you are and the fact that you need to announce that we need to quell or make a better image of her as she  naturally reflects  seems sort of making someone out to be something they are not.

    People will see this as something to talk about now, and after the election if he wins.   After the make over people will say that's really not her its just a fake image of her.  In other words people know why your doing this for, to help Obama get elected and nothing more.  I mean if you have to redo your wife in order to help you get elected seems rather lame IMO.    I think this image make over is wrong.  Just let her be and see how well Obama does in the GE.  Why fake it.  I am surprise that Michelle is not objecting to all this and saying,

    " It's who I am and what you see and hear  is  what you get"

    OT: I am horrifed (none / 0) (#270)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 10:00:29 AM EST
    I just received a thank you email from ActBlue thanking me for creating a fundraising page on the web for Obama??  I have done no such thing. Has anyone else received this email??  Here is an excerpt:

    Hello Fundraiser!

    Thanks again for creating a fundraising page to support Barack Obama.

    Now that you've spread the word and hopefully have contributions rolling in, we'd like to show you how to track your progress.

    As a page creator, you can see who has contributed to your page and download all the data to an Excel or Access file to keep the information organized.

    Click here to see the contribution data and statistics for your fundraising page.


    Baking Cookies (none / 0) (#271)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 10:18:05 AM EST
    lots of moronic press on recipes, how come the men do not have recipes for baking cookies or cooking?  hmmmmm

    Ironic (none / 0) (#272)
    by djork on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 10:40:27 AM EST
    Whether she likes it or not Michelle will be walking in Hillary's shoes now. I find this talk of a makeover thoroughly depressing. Sixteen years after Hillary's baking cookies gaffe this is how far we've come.

    Even more ironic is that it wasn't until Hillary fully stepped away from the image makers this year that she became the most beloved. I recall at the beginning of the campaign people saying "she's not authentic". I don't think anyone is saying that about her now.

    the Princeton scholarahip question (none / 0) (#273)
    by Molly Pitcher on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 10:48:34 AM EST
    When my son applied to college around 1991, he had won several national awards and honors.  On various forms he had to file, he named only 2 schools he was considering.  One was the local university where he was already taking classes while in high school.  The other was Princeton (not sure why).  Princeton picked up on that and contacted him.  Unfortunately, at that time they gave no academic scholarships--only need-based ones.  With his dad's salary being that of a state uni. prof, we could not have paid son's way  to Princeton.  So he went with the local school and an academic scholarship.  

    I don't like her (none / 0) (#274)
    by chopper on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 10:57:14 AM EST
    There a many reasons I don't like her, a few are yet to surface.  This is one of the big ones:

    May 10, 2008
    Michelle Vetoes Hillary
    By Robert Novak

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Close-in supporters of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign are convinced he never will offer the vice presidential nomination to Sen. Hillary Clinton for one overriding reason: Michelle Obama.

    The Democratic front-runner's wife did not comment on other rival candidates for the party's nomination, but she has been sniping at Clinton since last summer. According to Obama sources, those public utterances do not reveal the extent of her hostility.

    Jackson and Lincoln (none / 0) (#277)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 11:12:18 AM EST
    had pretty solid "bubba" credentials.

    And whover said the sexism in this camapaign was unprecedented hasnt been paying very close attention for the last 15 or so years.

    If we're just talking about Hillary, she's been Lilith the Queen of Demons and the succubus that robs right wing men of their life force on thousands of wingnut talk radio outlets ever since she started publicly talking about UHC however many years ago that was.

    And lets not automatically assume that all those idiotic commentators -- even if they were on Obama blogs -- were Obama supporters.

    BS (none / 0) (#279)
    by squeaky on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 11:28:09 AM EST
    Please note that the NYTimes story referenced the ""proud" statement erroneously. They cited the amended "I am REALLY proud," instead of the original "I am proud." The omission of that word really makes a difference.

    You are the airbrusher here. The original statement :

    "What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country


    Go ahead (none / 0) (#280)
    by jondee on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 11:47:03 AM EST
    and accuse me a race-baiting, class-baiting, gender-baiting, species-baiting etc etc

    But the sexism seems to become only truely appalling and unconscienable when the target happens to be alot of people's ego ideal -- who, more often than not, tends to be white and powerful. But, I suppose that's just "human nature", as they say.

    Michelle for Pres? (none / 0) (#281)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 12:04:23 PM EST
    If I read only this article, her resume is much more presidential than her husbands. She is decisive, able to bring diverse people together but unafraid to rock the boat. I never saw what he did' as a community organizer but this piece is specific about Michelle.
    Of course this piece is not all of her.But I'm not disinclined to like her.

    BTW - while some students and families at Princeton can be racist, the town and college itself are fairly color-blind, at least outwardly. My AA friends from HS got culture shock when they went to college in other places.

    Disgraceful IMHO (none / 0) (#282)
    by Amiss on Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 12:57:04 AM EST
    "Hillary and Obama are appearing at a fundraiser togehter next week. Maybe one day her supporters will follow the lead of the one they revere."

    This just stinks...Making her ask her bundlers to contribute to his campaign, just wreaks of how far they will go to humiliate her in every way possible.

    She needs funds to pay off her own debt, and I find this just disgraceful.