Of course, that's not what most headlines are saying about the revelations in Christopher Andersen's new biography of the first couple, Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage. But it sure sounds like the gist of the book.
The New York Post can be trusted to zero in on the most salacious details, so let's start there. Ooh, the headline has the words "revenge" and "flirts"! Give me the dirt, Post!
Michelle Obama gave her husband the silent treatment at one point in his campaign for president because so many women "pushed their bodies up against his, slipped phone numbers into his pockets" and whispered lewd suggestions in his ear, a new book out today claims.
Wait, that's it? The president apparently didn't even respond to the advances? In fact, he "allegedly said, 'Jesus, I wish they'd stop grabbing my ass'"? What's this silent treatment all about, then? Well, there was a rumor that Obama "had grown close to an attractive young African-American woman [working for the Obama campaign] named Vera Baker," and that Michelle got rid of her — Baker left the campaign and ended up in Martinique. After her "sudden" departure, "tongues reportedly began wagging."
I'm sorry, but we can't even confirm that tongues were wagging? This doesn't sound like much of a story.
And if it had been much of a story, what do you suppose are the chances that we'd still be living in a world where Vera Baker is not a household name? Especially since this supposed scandal happened during the campaign? I suppose there was a time when a presidential candidate might have been able to successfully conceal an extramarital dalliance, but I simply cannot believe that was possible in 2008; if there'd been a shred of evidence for anything untoward, this would have dominated the news. (And you know, if there was evidence, but the opposition somehow missed it, then regardless of my feelings about adultery, I stand in awe of the Obama machine. Awe and not a little fear.)
Other than that, the juiciest gossip in Andersen's book appears to be as follows, courtesy of CBS News:
- Michelle reportedly squelched the idea of Hillary Clinton as VP — "[S]he asked him if he really wanted to have Bill and Hillary down the hall in the White House."
- The "Yes we can!" slogan was Michelle's idea, and she pushed for it even though David Axelrod "thought it was childish and corny." (The fact that Axelrod apparently assumed "childish and corny" wouldn't appeal to the American public makes me wonder about his qualifications.)
- One time, not long after Obama started out in politics, the couple fought a lot and maybe even possibly considered splitting up. Then they didn't.
That's it! From an article headlined, "Author: Barack and Michelle Almost Split."
USA Today, on the other hand, interviewed Andersen about the book, resulting in the headline, "A glowing 'Portrait' of the Obamas' rock-solid marriage." That sounds more like it. The only eyebrow-raising part of that piece is Andersen's own interpretation of the larger meaning here: "What's odd is that our first non-white first family is really the most all-American, down-to-earth couple we've ever had in the White House." This is odd, why? Black people: They're just like us! But at least Andersen deserves credit for being realistic about what his research shows instead of trumping up vaguely scandalous-sounding details to sell the book. "The funny thing is you write a book about the ultimate power couple, but it's really just another classic love story," he said. "They're devoted to each other. It's unique. They're one of a kind."
And they're celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary on October 3rd. Man, what a disappointment!
Michelle Obama's Revenge For Flirts [NY Post]
Author: Barack And Michelle Almost Split [CBS News]
A Glowing 'Portrait' Of The Obamas' Rock-Solid Marriage. [USA Today]