Thursday, October 9, 2008

She's no Barbie

How does she do it? Nearly 20 months into her husband's presidential bid, Michelle Obama, mother of two and wife of "that one", looked like she'd just jetted back from a spa break on Larry King last night. Widely revered as the most glamorous political spouse since Jackie Kennedy, Michelle is that and so much more. She's beautiful, yes; elegant, certainly; but also extremely eloquent. 

Her interview on CNN was like a breath of fresh air after the spin and stump speech soundbites of the previous night's debate. In the personality-driven world of presidential politics, the potential First-Lady-to-be is a real person with sense and sensibility. She had kind words not only for Sarah Palin - "an excellent example of the kind of roles that women can and should play" - but also for Senator McCain's wife, the size zero jean-wearing, bottle-blond beer heiress who is called Cindy but looks more Barbie than Barbie as she clip clops around after her husband. Hillary Clinton, Michelle said, had been "phenomenal...a real woman with character". And she seemed like she meant it. 

It's ironic that while Palin attempts to play the supermom card, loading her family on and off planes as the photo-ops require, Michelle actually gets on with being a supermom, making the Obamas a role model family for a modern generation. Her kids seem pretty cool too. When told that her Daddy has won the Democrat nomination as president, her 10-year-old daughter, Malia, apparently said: "Yeah, but if Hillary had won it that would have been amazing too." 

Okay, so Michelle can get derided for sometimes not treating her potential First Ladyship with the reverence some think it merits. For instance, she'll tell interviewers she'd rather her husband was a law professor or author, earning herself the nickname of the "first lady of grievance" among some conservatives, but that's just because she is a real person first and politician's wife second. 

Given the cyclicality of US politics, what I want to know is if (inshallah) the world gets Obama this time round, will it be Michelle's turn in 2016? 

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