In the White House East Wing, the devil wears pencil skirts.
That’s the takeaway from a long essay in The New Republic this week that tries to paint a sympathetic picture of Michelle Obama tenure as first lady, but fails mightily at being flattering.
Jealousy and discontentment have festered, as courtiers squabble over the allocation of responsibility and access to Mrs. Obama, both of which can be aggravatingly scarce. Fueling these sentiments, according to former East Wing insiders, is the exacting but often ambivalent leadership style of the first lady herself.
This being The New Republic — a liberal bullhorn for the past 100 years — and the writer a former West Wing assistant press secretary, it’s all painted as the ambitions of a do-gooder on the national scale being thwarted by the confines of decorum, political “optics” and the fact that Michelle Obama is as widely and deeply disliked as her husband in conservative America.
Headlined, “The Worst Wing: How the East Wing shrank Michelle Obama,” it even cites the torrent of criticism that arose over Michelle Obama’s own very public admission that she was never “really proud of my country” until February 2008, when she was married to a man making an unlikely – and undeserved – run for the nation’s highest office.
The backlash was predictable and swift, and her husband’s advisers quickly steered her away from the rhetorical barbecue and toward the saltines.
But from the article it’s pretty clear that the outside pressures of politics aren’t as important as the internal pressures of a vainglorious first lady.
Mrs. Obama made it clear to her staff that—endless compulsory East Room receptions aside—her time was a valuable asset and requests to use it would have to meet an exceptionally high bar … She would only be available for official duties two or three days a week; the remainder would be devoted to family responsibilities.
For one thing, the imperative to guarantee results could be paralyzing.
And what results there were could be distorted by a sense of perspective that can only be described as pitiful.
“There’s no barometer: The first lady having the wrong pencil skirt on Monday is just as big of a fu**-up as someone speaking on the record when they didn’t mean to or a policy initiative that completely failed,” says another former aide. “It just made you super anxious.”
As much as it wrings the heart to know that Michelle Obama’s staff somehow deals with the rigors of being made “super anxious,” it does make you wonder about the unflagging devotion the first couple keeps receiving from its liberal acolytes – and will likely keep receiving for as long as they stay in the public eye, like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Bill Clinton left office in 2001 and the libs are pushing his wife at the country for the 2016 election.
Let’s hope they’re not doing the same with Mrs. Obama four election cycles from now.
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