It's a Show About Nothing

Art Vandelay, call your imaginary office:

During a White House event celebrating achievements in design Friday, Michelle Obama revealed her husband’s secret life-long ambition: He would have been an architect if he only had the skills.

Speaking at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Awards ceremony in the East Room, the first lady explained why “the president is so jealous right now” that she got to host the event.”And every year, when I’m going over my briefing, he’s like, ‘You’re doing that again?’ ” she said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “He’s like, ‘Well, who’s there?’ Because really, deep down, he would have been an architect had he been as talented and creative as all of you.”


“Why couldn’t you have made me an architect? You know I always wanted to pretend that I was an architect,” said the man also famous for quipping, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it,” which perfectly sums up Mr. Obama’s entire career.

By the way, that’s quite an admission from the Washington Post that Obama “would have been an architect if he only had the skills,” considering that the editor of one of their former subsidiary publications was calling him God just five years ago. But it sort of begs the question — one that the Post will never ask publicly — which comes first, not having the skills, or despising those in the private sector who do?

“[Barack Obama] always talked about the New Rochelle train, the trains that took commuters to and from New York City, and he didn’t want to be on one of those trains every day,” said Jerry Kellman, the community organizer who enticed Obama to Chicago from his Manhattan office job. “The image of a life, not a dynamic life, of going through the motions… that was scary to him.”

And then there was this classic bit from the future First Lady on the 2008 campaign trail:

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she tells the women. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.” Faced with that reality, she adds, “many of our bright stars are going into corporate law or hedge-fund management.”


Michelle’s claim leads to another question. So many architects are closet totalitarians or admire them. (Speer, Corbusier, Philip Johnson and openly Communist Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer all come immediately to mind.)

But why do so many would-be totalitarians admire architects?

Earlier: From Bauhaus to Barack’s House.


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