CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Democrats, 2012 is not 2008. On many levels, and this includes unresponding economy, this is a bad thing.
But when it comes to Michelle Obama, the passage of four years is a very, very good thing for her husband.
The skeptical, hard-edged woman and mother who stumbled through much of 2008 today made her own smooth and self-possessed entrance in the arena where the Democratic National Convention will convene on Tuesday.
Hers will be the most important speech on opening night. Her calendar is filled through the week.
Last week in Tampa, Ann Romney declared that her marriage to the GOP presidential candidate was no storybook union. It was filled with the challenge of raising a brood of sons and the banes of multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
It’s unlikely that Michelle Obama is likely to talk about what made her married life difficult. Because the answer would be, in large part, her husband’s political ambitions.
Last January, New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor published her book, “The Obamas.” It’s a look at what may be the most important marriage of the decade. The paperbook edition ($16, Little Brown) is now out.
Kantor will be speaking in Dunwoody on Sept. 12 at the annual book festival sponsored by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta.
The book was founded upon a 2009 interview that Kantor had with the First Couple. “The reason I wrote the book is because I saw the Obamas changing so much in office,” Kantor said Monday. “When we met them in 2008 they were really outsiders to presidential politics.”
Kantor quickly concedes that her approach has a precedent – “No Ordinary Time,” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which attempts to examine Franklin Delano Roosevelt through his relationship with his wife Eleanor.
Except that Kantor’s book resonates with tensions any family might recognize. Here’s a post-election something from Kantor you may not have known:
Only a handful of friends and aides knew that Michelle was considering: staying behind in Chicago with her daughters for the rest of the school year while the new president moved to Washington alone.
As if the presidency was a promotion to vice president of sales for a modest corporation that would land them in Omaha.
“One of the admirable things about the Obama is that they’ve never pretended their marriage was perfect,” Kantor said. “Half of Chicago knew that Michelle Obama had disapproved of her husband’s political pursuits. Instead of trying to cover it up, they spoke very frankly about their marriage.”
Like when Barack Obama lost his 2000 campaign against former Black Panther and incumbent Chicago congressman Bobby Rush. The defeat rocked the Obama marriage for two to three years, Kantor writes.
In 2008, her skepticism – mixed with a healthy dose of naiveté — had hardly disappeared, and she made headlines with this extemporaneous comment:
“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”
“She said all sorts of things that political wives aren’t supposed to say,” Kantor said. She noted that married men are self-centered. She punctured the worship that fans foisted on her husband.
And, God forbid, she bumped fists in public with the man who married her for the family stability she offered.
Kantor said the Michelle Obama you’re likely to see Tuesday night is one that has accepted her role and the process. “She really follows the script,. She sounds more like traditional first lady than she did a few years. She takes very few political risks.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider