The Corner

Because It’s Friday: First Lady Watch

I had no problem with the Obama’s date night in New York last month, even during a major recession with more bad economic news due the following Monday. It’s not a bad thing for the president to go to the theater. Culture is good. And I think it’s fine that Michelle and the girls joined the president in Europe last week. Indeed, it is reassuring to know that the first lady cares so deeply about the sacrifices of a previous generation of heroic Americans that she would attend commemorations at Normandy and show such interest and respect. Indeed, I think this picture demonstrates how moved she was.

I would have been forced to change my mind about Michelle had she chosen to accompany her husband to hot, crowded Egypt, and sit in the front row, with all the Islamic Brotherhood dudes, in one of her signature sleeveless, above-the-knee outfits. Now that would have been a nice way to express support for women in Muslim countries. Not the ones who are worried that someone will stop them from wearing veils, hijabs, or burqas (which her husband thinks is a major problem) — but rather the ones looking for liberty, equality, or basic rights. Actually, it wouldn’t have mattered what she wore, as long as she didn’t go native, as our secretary of state seems to be doing, with the headcoverings. One hopes that, over time, Michelle will become as interested in freedom as she is in consumption.  

Announcing that she was going to stay in Paris “for a little shopping” with her daughters after the D-Day ceremonies seemed both politically tin-eared (again, the recession) and just a little gauche. Okay, more than a little. (Not quite at the level of telling an audience of black sorority women that the best use of the $600 Bush stimulus checks was to ”go to the mall and buy earrings,” as she did during the campaign last year.) It was one thing for her role model, Jackie O, to do such things — since she had done them before ascending to the White House, on her own dime. In Michelle, the community organizer’s wife, this behavior seems more arriviste than charmant. Of course I like to put my children in French summer clothes, too. Which is why we recently drove across the river to the local Tarjay in (tax-free) New Jersey for shorts and T-shirts . . . hmm, they’re from China. Never mind. 

But you know, much as I disapproved, I changed my mind when I saw what (I’m guessing) she bought, and how the British press went wild over her. These pictures, and the accompanying prose from the London tabloids, would make any American proud. Such dignity. Such elegance. She compares to Laura Bush herself in class. Indeed, Laura never earned the title “First Lady of Flamboyance,” did she? Over at there are readers who, shockingly, suggest that the prose might be a little tongue in cheek; perhaps even outright mockery, in the way of brilliant, very dry Brit wit. But that would just be too, too mean. And it wouldn’t do any good, since the first lady is both tone deaf and very, very confident about her sense of style — and entitlement.


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