Do The Obamas Signal A Return To "Married Romance?"

During the Inaugural dance-a-thon that took place Tuesday night, it was hard not to notice how in love our First Couple seemed as they spun around the floor, celebrating their historic victory with one another.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews, who can go from curmudgeon to emo in 2.4 seconds when he's excited about something, couldn't stop gushing about our new First Couple, discussing their romance with Jezebel Girl Crush, Rachel Maddow:

MATTHEWS: It’s what my wife calls…She has a term for it. I can’t think of what it is now. It’s different than that. But I must say something, James Carville said politics is Hollywood for ugly people. These people, the actors they hired to play them couldn’t be better looking. I can say that of both families today. This is an incredibly glamourous bunch of people we watched in the reviewing stand today. Extraordinarily so. This picture would be hard to beat if Hollywood replicated it…

RACHEL MADDOW: They are modeling a married romance, that is moving…

MATTHEWS: Looks like two people on top of a wedding cake. Look at this stuff…

MADDOW: They are teasing each other. They are tender — beautiful.

MATTHEWS: This is not a political marriage, per se. No comment further…

At first, I laughed, as it seemed like a very Matthews-in-gushy-mode thing to say. But Rachel's comment about "modeling a married romance" really stuck with me, and when I tried to think of another famous couple in recent years that has really presented a believable and natural sense of true love and romance, it was hard to come up with any.

I always feel weird commenting on the President and First Lady in this way: there is a public interest in this presidency that hasn't been there in some time: we have a rock star leader, a celebrity, a glamorous pair whose every fashion choice seems to be documented. There's a disconnect between the President and his wife and the rest of the celebrity couples out there: celebrity couples often give off a sense of desperation, calculation, and it's hard to believe that any of them will last. The Obamas have already been together for 16 years, before the campaigns and the fancy balls and the international celebrity. And unlike Brangelina or some such, where the speculation and the gossip drowns out any sense of reality, one gets the sense that the Obamas truly are in love.

So the notion that the Obamas are, in fact, modeling a "married romance" doesn't seem too far off the mark. Which is a bit sad if you think about it: in this insanely wedding-obsessed culture we live in, the focus seems to be on the ceremony, and not the marriage itself. We hear all about wedding plans and sappy honeymoons, but rarely do we see an example of a couple who has stood the test of time and still appears to be madly in love with one another, at least not on an extremely public scale.

It's strange to read comments about the Obamas, in that people seem genuinely moved and excited at the prospect of a couple who are still, quite clearly, in love with one another, who still blush when they are dancing, who still smile as if they just met, who still hold hands in public and hold each other's attention, even when the entire world is screaming their names. Perhaps it speaks to a generation such as mine, which was filled with the divorces of many of our parents, that hey! married people can actually make it, that love doesn't necessarily die out or fade away. And while the Obamas certainly never asked to be the symbol of "married romance" perhaps, without even trying, and just by being themselves, they are once again giving off tiny rays of hope.

Matthews: Not A Political Marriage [Columbia Journalism Review]