January 15, 2010
“Mama, am I still the littlest in the Klause family?”
“On my birthday I want to go to the spa and pick out my nailpolish and your nailpolish….You have to wear what I choose for you..”
January 7, 2010
It’s funny. Mention Michelle Obama and it seems to me that you get either fawning adoration or back-handed compliments from those who don’t really like her but aren’t quite sure how vigorously to oppose her. As with most First Ladies, the majority of the U.S. public are indifferent; they are happy to see her stick to her “issue” whatever that might be, and don’t want her to ruffle too many feathers.
Sunday’s Style section had an odd piece on her — at once acknowledging the duty portion of her role as first lady in hosting more traditional “women’s issues” events — such as around Breast Cancer and mentoring — and simultaneously showing how much more effective and warm she is when she comes out from behind the podium. The Robin Givhan article suggested that Michelle’s first year lacked focus… I disagree…Yes, she tried to do a lot, and honestly, that is one thing I like about her. She’s not afraid to try a lot of new things as she finds her way as First Lady. Yet even her key ”pet” issue, promoting healthy childhood and family eating, got a TON of traction and attention.
It’s probably no big surprise that I often find myself on the opposing political side when she takes to the airwaves and whitehouse.gov videos in an attempt at amplifying her husband’s policy (read: healthcare) agenda. However, in most settings, she comes across to me as refreshing and fun. Here’s my top 4 list of things I love about Michelle:
4) Her honesty about finding balance in managing work and family — while always putting her family first. Sure, she now has a lot of help so probably no longer has to manage the tasks that many of us do, including laundry, makeup, packing lunches, errands, and shopping. However it wasn’t always this way for her. She often refers to times when her husband was off politicking and she was the one who had to find a way to manage the essential meeting at the office while tending to a sick child at home. It may be because she still has young children that she seems to “get” the tug-of-war struggle that most working parents feel.
3) Her kitchen garden! This has been an amazing hit — it almost seems crazy that the White House inhabitants haven’t created or magnified the benefits of a White House garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden plot during WWII! Not only does it tie nicely to Michelle’s platform on healthy eating, but it allows her to bring in everyone from local children to the Iron Chef America crew in order to get the message across. Her team has done an amazing job of creatively promoting the garden.
2) Her inclination to tease…starting with her husband. We first saw this right after Obama was elected and the incoming First Couple sat down with Barbara Walters. Babs asked then President-elect Obama what chores he did around the house. Obama started to wax poetic about finding relaxation in washing the dishes. Calling bull*&%@ on him for the world to see, Michelle said bluntly, “Really, when you have last washed dishes?” So busted. Of course she’s much more cautious now, as it seems people didn’t like how she would pick on him. I found some of her “he doesn’t pick up his socks” comments just plain real.
1) Her style!! Yes, I said it. I am always looking to see what she is wearing!! Very shallow yes — that is if you think fashion is shallow – - I actually don’t. Like no First Lady since Jackie Kennedy has one taken such an interest in fashion (publicly). Although she has some misses and people make fun of the JCrew get-ups as if JCrew precludes her form truly being a fashion diva, I actually think this all makes it more real. What woman doesn’t hit and miss sometimes if they are truly adventurous with fashion? Yes Jackie had the storied relationship with Oleg Cassini. Yes, Laura Bush stuck pretty much with Oscar de la Renta. All perfectly fine, perhaps wise and safe. You could argue that these women knew what worked for them and didn’t drift far from their ”uniform.” But, Michelle is young enough and her personality vivacious enough that she’s willing to explore. In in the process, she’s given new life to the State Dinner Red carpets…. and, since Inauguration, kept us guessing as to ”who” she’d wear next. One need only to read Robin Givhan’s 2009 summary on fashion hits and misses to see that Michelle is all over the BEST of the year.
So, we’ll see what 2010 brings…My vote is for less of the President and more of his wife!
February 11, 2009
Living in Washington has me a bit jaded, I suppose. Even though my husband goes to work every day to a place of great prestige and power, which some have only seen on television, we often do the requisite complaining about his commute and hours. For shame!!!
Why this mea culpa? I was called to account and to a renewed respect for this place called the White House this week, not through any Christmas party visit, after-hours WW tour or presidential press conference, but through C-Span, which has created the most comprehensive and beautiful documentary of “the People’s House.” From the descriptors of Washington’s (who never inhabited the House) plans to pictures of Eleanor Roosevelt’s (first only female reporters allowed) press conference, to the first ever video of the 3rd Floor Coolidge Solarium and a peak into Laura Bush’s yellow oval room, it is a fascinating and top-notch exploration.
It seems every president, including our current one, wants to be like Abe. The references to President Abraham Lincoln were ummatched in this documentary, punctuated by the recent refurbishing of the Lincoln Bedroom to match the style of the room when he inhabited the White House. How amazing and fitting now, as tomorrow we mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
The C-Span documentary crew had few restrictions placed on their exploration; only a few Mansion spots were off limits apparently — the swimming pool and the Presidential Master bath (come on!) but other than that, most of the House was fair game, even the Chocolate “factory”.
For the C-Span show, you can see the trailer here, but we bought the DVD for $10 and I plan to buy many more to give as gifts. Now, if you want a close up tour from 2008 Christmastime, “A Red, White and Blue Christmas”, go over to Big Red Kitchen and see Rob and Robin touring the public rooms of the House.
You can always book the public tours, but when the wicked-cool West Wing tours open up again with the new Administration, we just might know some insiders….