Michelle Obama Interview

I’ve hit Michelle hard on here a few times. For the sake of fairness: Michelle in her own words.

Your next First Lady?

With SpongeBob on her TV, Lauryn Hill on her iPod, two BlackBerrys in her purse and, she hopes, the White House in her future, Michelle Obama is moving fast. Writer Tonya Lewis Lee attempts to catch up.

Michelle Obama

Obama: campaigning for her guy

I have to admit I was a little intimidated by Michelle Obama when I first saw her. She was standing on the far side of a hotel conference room, and I got the impression of a regal woman who has a model’s height (she’s 5’11”) and a classic, understated chic. But then she came forward, extended an endless arm and broke out her famous million-watt smile. She gave me a big hug—as if we were old girlfriends—and I felt as though I’d known her forever. I guess part of my comfort came from the similarities in our lives. Michelle and I are both lawyers; we both have two children (I have a daughter, Satchel, 12, and a son, Jackson, 10; her girls are Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6); and we’re both married to very public men. My husband is director Spike Lee; hers is Barack Obama, the third black United States senator since Reconstruction and our would-be next president.

First I saw Michelle’s friendliness, then I saw her focus. This was business; she had a job to do and a message to get across. She answered each question with enthusiasm, leaning in to me and gesturing with her expressive hands.

Being First Lady was probably not on her mind in 1988, when she met Barack. A product of Chicago’s South Side (her father was a city pump operator, and her mother a secretary) and a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, she was an attorney at the Sidley Austin firm in Chicago when she was assigned to mentor a new summer intern, Barack. Four years later they married. Now, while her husband runs for the presidency, Michelle, 43, does the lion’s share of raising their girls and works as vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. She’s on the road several days a week for the Obama campaign, shaking hands, charming the media, making speeches…and history.

TONYA LEWIS LEE: People seem to think that you are the secret weapon of your husband’s campaign.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I feel so much passion for this candidacy. When we made the decision to get in this race, there was a side of me that said, “Oh, no. This is going to be so personally disruptive—why put yourself through that?” But then I let myself dream about what his presidency would mean [to the nation and the world] and I get goose bumps.

TLL: You once said, “Politics is a waste of time.”

MO: That statement reflects my cynicism about politics, not about Barack. My thought has always been that he has something special to offer the political process, which can be a mean-spirited game. Over the years I’ve become more confident in people’s ability to recognize a good thing.

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Honestly, if it weren’t for her liberal (as opposed to progressive) views and her husbands Marxist taint, I’d not have a problem with Michelle Obama. At a certain level, I understand the race issue. I don’t completely agree with some black folks on the issue of racism. I do, however, see the problems and I undertand how certain views are formed. There is guilt enough for everyone.

As I’ve said before, though, America has a discrimination problem. Not a racism problem. People say that Michelle didn’t mean what she said with the “first time/proud” statement. If that is the case, she should speak more clearly to her ideals. General statements like that serve only to stoke the flames of unrest and division. If she [and Obama] wants unity. Truly. She should strive to speak and act towards unity.