Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Reluctant Mrs. Obama

Newsweek has a great story this week on Michelle Obama, the seemingly reluctant wife of Barack-star Obama. Apparently this Mrs. O is a bit hesitant on stage, though she certainly has an impressive background and an inspiring life story of her own.

It's always an interesting sideshow to watch, this dance the media does with spouces of candidates.

So far, Mrs. O seems to be inching a bit more toward the path set last time by the outright reserved spouce of Howard Dean - Dr. Judith Steinberg. Steinberg really shunned the media and didn't campaign at all with her husband. When Maureen Dowd took a whack, it created quite a stir and, suddenly behind Sen. John Kerry in New Hampshire after Kerry's suprise in Iowa, guess what Dean did? Well, he trotted out the wife. I was there that day in a cramped New Hampshire schoolhouse, it was pretty sad.

Lord knows we saw a ton of Teresa Heinz and Elizabeth Edwards - proof the out-front spouce can cut both ways, I think. Edwards thinks his wife is such an asset, she's now written a book, gone on Oprah and has her own blog.

And then we've got Mr. Hillary Clinton to deal with this time - the ultimate quandry of spousal impact on a presidential campaign. What's Bill doing? What's Bill not doing? Why is/isn't Bill doing it?

That, of course, isn't even getting to the kids. Dick Cheney almost took out Wolf Blitzer with his hunting rifle for having the gall to ask about Cheney's daughter - this being after said daughter campaigned publicly for her dad, wrote a book and even went on Wolf's show to promote it.

Time will tell whether the public fascination with Mr. Obama extends to Mrs. Obama.

My unsolicited advice - if she doesn't want on the campaign trail, keep her off and have her do a couple very high profile interviews (Oprah, 60 Minutes, Times Magazine, Washington Post Style Section) and then minor profiles in key primary state papers and TV (Iowa, N.H., S.C., and Arizona should do it). That will fend off most of the criticism, will keep her largely out of harm's way (and away from chili-feeds) and help her keep some measure of sanity for the kids.

But she's already got a problem - she's interesting. And that, my friends, will draw the media like white on rice. Heck, I can't stop thinking of the commitment it takes to get up every morning at 430 a.m to work out. I've got two kids too and I thought my 5:30 a.m. wakeup call from Jake was impressive.

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