According to Carla Bruni, when she asked Michelle Obama what it was like being first lady, she responded, "Don't ask! It's hell. I can't stand it!" Alert Fox News: swap anti-Mobama meme from "Marie Antoinette" to the already-familiar "insufficiently grateful."
This news comes to us via The Daily Mail, which culled it from an authorized tell-all that got the story directly from Bruni, not known for her discretion. The conversation allegedly took place at The White House during an official visit in March 2010.
If that's what Michelle Obama indeed said, let's agree that it's an unfortunate gaffe, which she probably had a reasonable expectation wouldn't go beyond her and the First Lady of France, especially only a few months of uttering it. Let's also agree that while there are many amazing and inspiring things about being First Lady, including a platform for your causes and unrivaled access, it's a job Michelle always made manifestly clear she didn't want.
In any case, the right-wing Internet commentariat's response has already been a resounding, "The feeling is mutual!" And we are likely about to experience a return to the idea that Michelle Obama should be grateful, a word that when used during the campaign was, to understate it, unfortunate to use about a descendant of slaves alluding to the uglier sides of America. Particularly when many of those uglier aspects are still very much with us.
Back then, in 2007, the attitude was typified by The National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru, who wrote on a Washington Post forum, "Her combination of bitterness, ingratitude, anti-Americanism, leftism, and, yes, elitism rubs a lot of people the wrong way. (Her hostility to men, as evidenced in this 2004 interview, is unpleasant, too.)" The "ingratitude" meme was also pushed by conservatives on television, and Michelle Malkin said of the audience who applauded at Obama's "For the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of my country" comment, Exhibit A of the ingratitude brigade: "What a sad, empty, narcissistic, ungrateful, unthinking lot."
And that was before that ungrateful lot elected that ungrateful woman's husband, and before she had the audacity to go on a bad-optics vacation. Well, this is going to be pleasant.
Update: The White House is denying the account, and the French Embassy says, "Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy distances herself completely from the content of the book ‘Carla and the Ambitious', which was not authorized and the authors alone are responsible for its contents. The words attributed to the First Lady of the United States were never said."