Today, there are a smattering of articles about the other Obama, Michelle. The question being raised: What kind of First Lady will she be?
A piece by Lonnae O'Neal Parker in the Washington Post reminds us:
"Over the years, the role of first lady has been perceived as largely symbolic," former first lady Hillary Clinton once said of the position. "She is expected to represent an ideal — and largely mythical — concept of American womanhood."
But with a Presidential campaign built on "change," isn't it time the idea of the First Lady changed? There's an opportunity for Michelle Obama to have global impact, if she wants to.
First Lady is a position without constitutionally prescribed duties, but it's the closest person to the most powerful man in the world — a position of unaccountable influence. To the weight of it all, Obama brings degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law, attractiveness, vitality, fitness. And she's a mother of two. A mommy.
And Michelle Obama has a trail to blaze, since she is unlike any First Lady, ever. As Nia-Malika Henderson explains on Politico:
Michelle Obama might be the only incoming first lady to draw comparisons to Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy, Hillary Clinton — and even the fictional Clair Huxtable of Cosby TV show fame…
…Yet the Kennedy comparison doesn’t really stand up, experts said. Jacqueline Kennedy was 31 when she entered the White House, and she was practically a princess, with the feathery voice to match. Michelle Obama, the great-great granddaughter of South Carolina slaves, turned 45 Jan. 17 and is a Harvard-trained lawyer.
But in a New York Times piece, reporter Rachel L. Swarns writes that between Michelle Obama calling herself "mom in chief," her "family-friendly" decorating choices, interest in working with military families, and concerns about systemic employment bias against minorities, Obama has already hinted at what kind of First Lady she will be. Notes Swarns:
She has highlighted the warm, informal tone that she hopes will characterize her time in the executive mansion by signing e-mail messages to supporters simply as "Michelle."
Defined by Her Times and Defining Them, Michelle Obama Is a First Among First Ladies [WaPo]
As First Lady, Michelle Obama Can Blaze Her Own Trail [WaPo]
First Lady Firsts: The Other Obama [Politico]
Hints of Agenda and Tone for New First Lady [NY Times]
For New First Lady, Hints Of Agenda And Tone [International Herald Tribune]