Michelle Obama: ‘I guess it’s like, if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it … that’s not true. It’s a hard job’

grab from https://youtu.be/8K3vyAsKZyw
Screen capture … Michelle Obama at the Essence Festival … Credit: CBS News

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was interviewed before a crowd at the Essence Festival on Saturday and among a wide range of topics she offered her take on the presidency, saying, “I fear at times Barack made it look easy – I guess it’s kind of like if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it … and that’s not true. It’s a hard job.”

That’s a strange way to express a thought about your “legendary” husband, and people took notice:


Gayle King of CBS, drew Obama out continually on issues of race and politics, to include criticisms of the current presidential administration, without mentioning President Trump’s name. But a favorite topic was of course her own role in what many on the left today revere as a storied presidency.

Young people “don’t remember how many punches we took” to get to the White House, she said, though there were no details of what those “punches” might have been.

Bottom line, the general theme of the interview was that it was hard becoming and being the first black president and first lady.

Obama did speak at some length about her own “strength” in terms of being opinionated and outspoken, as she tried to establish her own identity when the Obamas first arrived in the White House.

“Now I’m Michelle Obama and beloved, but for a minute there I was an angry black woman who was emasculating her husband.” Democrats and Republicans alike were afraid of “the strength of a black woman,” she said.

Watch that segment here …

Video by CBS News

Obama also said that she knew that, as she became the first lady she would have to “earn grace.”

“I want all young girls out there to know – we all struggle with that, people of color, working-class folks, women of color – people try to define us in a negative way before we get a chance to get out there and tell our own stories,” she said.

Obama declined to endorse any of the multitude of Democrats running in the 2020 primary election season, but indicated she and Barack would support whoever the nominee was.

Asked about the qualities she would like to see in the next president. Obama said “I talked about this in the last campaign but nobody listened.”

“It’s a hard job y’all. This isn’t a joke, this isn’t a game — the leader of the free world with a tweet can start a war, can crush an economy, can change the future of our children.”

The job requires “deep seriousness and focus,” said Obama, and it requires someone who “understands history” and “having facts, operating with a clear base of facts and ideas. Someone who is careful with their words, somebody is who is trustworthy, someone who is loyal and honest.”

“I fear at times Barack made it look easy – I guess it’s kind of like if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it … and that’s not true. It’s a hard job,” Obama said.

The former first lady talked about letting go and of being able to forgive, but it seemed as if there was some bitterness there when she spoke of the Trump inauguration and looked out into a crowd that she said “did not reflect the diverse country” that America is and that she and Barack were among just a handful of people of color in attendance.

She said the transition between the Obama and Trump administration was an emotional time, but that it was a “release” when she was able to leave it behind. “All I had to do for 8 years, watching my husband get raked over the coals, feel like we had to do everything perfectly, no scandal,” she said. “It was a lot emotionally that when I got on that plane, it was a release.”


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