In two new interviews, Barack and Michelle Obama reflect on their first year at the White House and reveal that they still make time to check out indie films and keep up with tabloid gossip.
The Obamas gave People magazine their first interview of 2010 (and apparently felt totally comfortable nuzzling in front of People photographer Martin Schoeller). The President said he's proud of getting the health care bill through the House and the Senate this year and Michelle talked more about her White House garden, but both said they're proudest of how their girls have adjusted to living at the White House. Michelle explained:
We've tried to keep their day-to-day life pretty ordinary, so they seem like the kids that we've always known. But we talked about how fun it was just watching as they met the Pope. I think the girls were much more poised and calm in front of the Pope than Grandma and Mama Kaye [their godmother]. It was interesting, the pictures of the Pope and Malia and Sasha standing there exchanging conversation: "How's school?" "It's fine."
Though Barack was questioned about terrorism and Afghanistan, People had a much more intimate question for Michelle: As a woman under 50, would she stop getting annual mammograms in light of the controversial new guidelines on breast cancer? She replied:
I do [get annual mammograms], and I'm not going to change. I tend to err on the side of caution in every aspect of my health. The broader message to women is that we have to own our health. Listen to advice, but ultimately we've got to take care of ourselves.
Rest assured, the President himself is giving a lot of thought to Americans' biggest domestic concerns: Can Tiger Woods be rehabilitated? He says:
Absolutely. I don't want to comment on his personal relationship with his wife and family, but I'm a strong believer that anybody can look within themselves, find their flaws and fix them. I'm sure he feels terrible about what happened, and I suspect that he will try to put his life back together again.
It seems the President has put some serious consideration into what Tiger may be thinking and feeling right now. (Come to think of it, no one would ever look for Tiger at Camp David.) If you're thinking of holing up in an undisclosed location yourself, the Obamas offer these suggestions for your Netflix queue:
Mrs. Obama: I liked An Education. And The Hurt Locker was powerful. It sticks in my head. I know what your favorite movie is — Avatar.
The President: Avatar was very good. And that movie with Maya Rudolph...
Mrs. Obama: Away We Go.
As for what to put on your iPod, Michelle recommends Ledisi because she's "got a really pretty voice" and "some Motown remix, going back to the roots." The President says he doesn't have that much time to update his iPod and he's afraid to let Reggie Love do it because "... then all I get is Jay-Z, and I love Jay-Z, but once in a while I might want some Yo-Yo Ma or something."
Earlier this afternoon, Michelle sat down in the old family dining room with seven print reporters who seemed less interested in the First Family's favorite music and movies than People (and frankly, us.) According to The Washington Post, when asked if she's unnerved by the security breach at the White House State Dinner she said:
The state dinner was an outstanding success. It's just the follow-up after it. I look at the reporting on the state dinner and go, 'Is that all that happened? Really. Because I sat in a phenomenal dinner where the prime minister and his wife were, felt, so connected to the United States and they were so proud to be there. And the evening was so wonderful and it was so well orchestrated," she said. 'For me the other stuff that everyone is talking about is a footnote to what the state dinner actually was. So I wouldn't do that over.
As for Senator Harry Reid's comments about candidate Obama having a good shot at the presidency because he's a "light-skinned" African American who had "no Negro dialect," Michelle refused to add to the controversy, saying:
Harry Reid had no need to apologize to me. Because I know Harry Reid. I measure people more so on what they do, rather than the things that they say.
She elaborated that though she doesn't hold a grudge against Reid, the nation still faces big challenges when it comes to race relations. While having a smart, stylish woman who actually knows how to operate an iPod in the White House for the last year has certainly been fun, Michelle isn't letting anybody forget the significance of her being First Lady :
Civil rights, the movement, happened in my lifetime. It feels like it's been a long time but it hasn't. My great-great-great-grandmother was actually a slave. We're still very connected to slavery in a way that's very powerful... That's my grandfather's grandmother. That's not very far away. I could have known that woman. We need to keep having conversations until we get it right.
First Lady Michelle Obama Reviews First Year In White House, Discusses Aims For 2010 [The Washington Post]
Our First Year [People, not online]