Poor Michelle Obama. Five star hotels, tax-payer funded drivers and security, top shelf food and clothing, a personal staff of about 30 at her beck and call, intimate White House concerts from Paul McCartney, and a personal chef. Boy, the burdens of being first lady are such a drag.
A new book alleges that Michelle Obama once said, “It’s hell. I can’t stand it,” when asked about her job according to the first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
So what does material-girl Michelle want? Better chefs? More trips to Europe? Maybe she needs another vacation.
The White House, naturally, denies ever saying this. Mrs. Obama's spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, insisted to ABC News: “she never said that.” -- As if there is another option.
The French embassy has also said it’s untrue, "Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy distances herself completely from the content of the book 'Carla and the Ambitious,' which was not authorized and the authors alone are responsible for its contents. The words attributed to the first lady of the United States were never said," was the offfical statement on Thursday. But Bruni-Sarkozy – who the U.K.'s Daily Mail's claims authorized this biography of herself and worked with the writers on the content – has not personally denied it.
But what realistic motivation would provoke Bruni-Sarkozy to lie?
Some reports allege that Bruni-Sarkozy sanctioned this passage in the book as payback because the Obamas passed on a dinner invite from Bruni and her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
According to an unauthorized Bruni-Sarkozy biographer, Besma Lahouri, Bruni-Sarkozy has an alleged rivalry with Michelle Obama that has strained relations between the French and American couples.
This type of talk is typically reserved for rich women in Beverly Hills, the borough of Manhattan, or 17th century French queens. Spoiled socialites who gripe about their gardeners, the new drapes at the country club or the pressures of attending so many parties, not a U.S. president’s wife.So does that make this off-putting anecdote a lie? A leak? Or strategically placed payback?
As a former political press secretary, I get how these things work. Stories that have a kernel of truth, or that could come back to haunt the accused are outsourced to the flak, the spokesperson or the mouthpiece to deny. This way, the subject can maintain some level of distance and deniability if an otherwise undesirable outcome ensues at a later date. Michelle Obama should vehemently deny this herself, but maybe the White House is hoping it goes away.
As for this charge, it’s important to note that this is not some hapless allegation that she didn’t personally plant the seeds in her White House veggie garden. This story is serious. It could put undue pressure on Barack Obama and it could strain US relations with France months before Sarkozy is slated to lead the G-8.
But the most damaging element is that the supposed anecdote adds to an already existing narrative that she is an angry, above the plebians do-as-I say-not-as-I-do wife of the president. And if these statements are true, it’s no longer suspected she’s unhappy in her current role, it would confirm she outright abhors it.
The case has already been building.
One New York Times columnist blasted her in an August 7 piece for deserting her husband at the hardest times in his presidency, insinuating that she wants no part in supporting her husband through the tough stuff.
Then there is the idea that Michelle and Barack Obama don’t stand up for their country. This suspicion has been editorialized and examined at length because of their past statements (She claimed to be proud of her country for the first time in her adult life when her husband won the Democratic nomination for president, and he has been known to apologize overseas for U.S. behavior and has dismissed American exceptionalism).
Questions have also been raised about whether or not the president actually wants another term. Roger Simon wrote in Politico that he’s been “off-message” and uses this as evidence to prove that he just doesn’t seem to care about getting four more years.
But what about Michelle?
Looking back, almost every first lady has not only delighted in their position, but was honored and humbled by it. Sure, the demands are many, the spotlight can understandably be intimidating and sometimes annoying, and no doubt it’s hard work, but… a hell she can't stand?
If this were former First Lady Laura Bush, and she had sanctioned an autobiography, the media would insist it’s true and use it to impune not just her, but her husband, as well.
True or not, it would be wise for the first lady to flashback to 2007 when White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton pushed back on her comments about being proud of the United States: “Of course Michelle is proud of her country, which is why she and Barack talk constantly about how their story wouldn’t be possible in any other nation on Earth.”
Never has a truer statement been uttered. Anything to the contrary is what we as Americans can’t stand.
Andrea Tantaros is a Fox News contributor and conservative columnist. Follow her on Twitter @andreatantaros.
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