Well, So Much For Fixing Our Souls
We'll get to Michelle Obama's hellish new quote in just a moment, but first, some quick background.
Back in September of 2007, I linked to a few of the future first lady's more outre quotes (prior to this one) and asked, "Is Michelle Obama the Teresa Heinz of the 2008 campaign season?"
That was before Michelle started immanentizing the eschaton on behalf of her husband's campaign early in the following year:
We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another -- that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.
But be careful what you wish for -- being the wife of the nation's would-be soul repairer evidently can seem remarkably purgatorial. Flash-forward to last month, when Ann Althouse noted that based on all the signs from her myriad vacations this summer, First Lady Michelle Obama seemed rather unhappy being pigeonholed as first lady:
Michelle Obama got bad press galore during the 2008 campaign. She got her image readjusted — feminized, really. She became the wonderful mom, fashion icon, and purveyor of vegetables. You can just imagine how much she liked doing that. But as she stretched out within the hyper-feminine role imposed on her, she got into the manifestation of femininity that rubs people the wrong way. Too much shopping and free-spending on superficial, materialistic pleasures. It's the classic feminine protest against confinement in a feminine role. Don't like it? Then don't limit powerful women that way. But if Michelle Obama isn't limited, most people won't like her. We saw that in 2008. I mean, I liked her, but it didn't play well generally.
Earlier this month, Tom Maguire wrote, rather presciently in retrospect, that Mrs. Obama is "one unscripted comment away from telling the Great Unwashed what she really thinks about the rest of us:"
The only suspense is whether her gaffes will be swept under the rug (not that rug!) by the attending press. I am betting she will be ratted out -- if her aides can turn on her, the press can.
And here we go!
In the item currently atop the Drudge Report, England's Daily Mail claims, "Catty Carla Bruni lifts lid on Michelle Obama's 'hellish' job:"
Michelle Obama thinks being America’s First Lady is ‘hell’, Carla Bruni reveals today in a wildly indiscreet new book.
Miss Bruni reveals that Mrs Obama replied when asked about her position as the U.S. president’s wife: ‘Don’t ask! It’s hell. I can’t stand it!’
Details of the private conversation, which took place at the White House during an official visit by Nicolas Sarkozy last March, emerged in Carla And The Ambitious, a book written in collaboration with Miss Bruni.
In it, she says one term as French president ‘will be enough’ for her husband and suggests he might take tips from his friend Tony Blair: ‘Why not start making money?’
I wonder if Michelle is proffering similar suggestions to her husband right about now?
I'm sure the walking back of her quote will commence immediately, and/or megatons of context will be applied to spin it into something more palatable. (Mea culpas along the lines of "I said it was hell, Katie/Oprah/Whoopi, because Barack and I work so hard for the American people," are possibly soon to come.)
But even so, there's a certain amount of damage already done, particularly given its mega-hyping by the Drudge Report. How will it all play out on the campaign trail this month and next, where Obama had apparently hoped his wife would be an asset during the midterms?
Update: Roger L. Simon asks the logical follow-up question: If Michelle hates being first lady, what does her husband think about being POTUS?
Update (10:55 AM PM 9/16/10): Well that didn't long for the walkback to begin; currently on Drudge:
- WH: 'The first lady never said that'...
- FRENCH EMBASSY: 'The words were never said'...
- BOOK PAYBACK? Barack and Michelle Obama decline dinner with the Sarkozys...
Regarding that last one, insert your own "They told me if I voted for..." riffs Insta-riffs regarding the president and foreign relations here.
And as Karl Rove notes in the Wall Street Journal about the president's largely self-inflicted domestic woes, "in just 20 months, Mr. Obama has lost control of his presidency's narrative." The damage control this morning over the FLOTUS doesn't help matters.