Magazine article New African

Obama's Rock and Mum-in-Chief

Magazine article New African

Obama's Rock and Mum-in-Chief

Article excerpt

Michelle Obama's devotion, dedication, vibrancy and articulacy on issues during her husband's campaign for the White House proved beyond any doubt why president-elect Barack Obama calls her "my rock". In his autobiography The Audacity of Hope he wrote, "If I ever had to run against her for public office, she would beat me without much difficulty." That alone underscores why Mrs O will be no ordinary American First Lady. And as Regina Jere-Malanda reports, the incoming leader of the world's superpower surely did well in chosing this remarkable woman as his wife--she won't disappoint.

Although Michelle Obama cannot escape them, she is already defying the many stereotypes that have been thrown at her from so many angles during the presidential campaign. But her main challenge will come when she takes over the reins at the East Wing (the First Lady's quarters at the White House), on 20 January.

And if the media scrutiny she has received so far is anything to go by, the world waits with bated breath to see what the first ever black First Lady will bring to the White House. And why not? There has been none like her before.

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No surprise, therefore, that the respected Time magazine had this much cooing about the First Lady-in-waiting: "Everything about this woman speaks to the modern, post-feminist woman. She is manifestly clever, independently minded, attractive in a normal, accessible way (and not in a scary, plastic-fantastic Cindy [McCain] way). Her demeanour is a reassuring mixture of sassy and self-deprecating; her easy, confident dress sense neither too sexy nor too self-conscious. Most of all, however, she appears to be the personification of sanity, a woman who, while clearly supportive of her husband's quest for world domination, is nevertheless not afraid to point out when he is in danger of drinking too much of his own Kool-Aid."

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Further describing her as unique, supportive, independent and a fashion icon, the international weekly magazine also salutes Michelle as not only being invigoratingly intelligent and proud of her urbanity, but also unafraid of showing her abilities.

"She is certainly the only wife of a presidential candidate I can remember who, instead of playing herself down, played up the general uselessness of her husband in matters domestic--and in doing so not only held her ground intellectually, but also reached out to all those women who, while devoted to their spouses, also find them slightly useless in matters of sock-tidying," says the report's author, Sara Vine.

She adds: "Perhaps the most exciting thing about Michelle, however, is what having a woman lawyer like her in the White House means. For it is not often one can go to sleep safe in the knowledge that there is an educated, intelligent, sensible female voice being heard in the corridors of power."

Although described as a multi-tasker, Michelle has already made it very clear that her main priority will be as "Mum-in-chief" to her young daughters Malia (10) and Sasha (7). But with all the emotion and drama their journey to the White House has evoked, the world is more than eager to know how she will balance family and duty in the world's foremost household.

The Obamas will be only the fourth family with young children to occupy the White House since the start of the 20th century, The others were the Carters, the Kennedys and the Roosevelts.

"Michelle has incredible integrity. Whatever she strongly believes in, she puts everything into it. And she is very passionate about family. Like all of us, she juggles her job as a wife and mother, and she will take that with her to Washington," Yvonne Davila, one of her closest friends for 18 years, told the Chicago Tribune.

The paper also quotes Valerie Jarrett, a senior campaign adviser and longtime Obama family friend, "One of Michelle's strengths is being prepared. …

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