8 Reasons Michelle Obama Would Make a Better Presidential Candidate Than Her Husband
Is she actually the toughest and smartest Obama?
As with every White House Correspondent’s Dinner, at this year’s soiree the President found himself in danger of being overshadowed by even more dazzling stars in his orbit. I’m not referring to Hollywood stars like George Clooney or Kerry Washington, who were in attendance. I’m referring to his wife.
Glowing in her strapless Naeem Khan gown, First Lady Michelle Obama did what she has done since the beginning of the Obama administration: upstage her husband. Though the President was charming and funny (according to many, far funnier than the evening’s actual professional funnyman), and looked dapper decked out in his tux, he was simply no match for his Mrs.
In a room full of some of Hollywood’s most glamorous leading ladies, the First Lady managed to steal the show, and that’s not an easy thing to do, particularly when Lindsay Lohan is wandering around bra-less. But it wasn’t the first time her star quality has outshone others’ and if her media coverage over the course of the last week is any indication, it will not be the last. A just released ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Michelle Obama is one of the most popular political figures, of any gender or party in the nation, with 69% of Americans having a favorable opinion of her. According to ABC, “Her favorability rating is 13 points higher than her husband’s; her unfavorable score, 16 points lower.” She also scores higher than Mitt and Ann Romney and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose favorability was found to be at a lifetime high.
In what has got to be one of the greatest comebacks in political history, the woman who was once viewed as a liability on the campaign trail in 2008 is now viewed as a greater asset than her husband as he seeks re-election in 2012. The First Lady has consistently outscored her husband in popularity since he took the oath of office, and now an enterprising cub reporter has finally had the courage to ask what many of us have wondered: could she one day see herself following his footsteps, or more specifically, Hillary Clinton’s footsteps, down the path of First Lady turned presidential candidate? When asked, the First Lady replied to the cub reporter in-training (aka a little girl who was visiting the White House as part of “Take Your Daughter to Work Day"), “Absolutely not.” But there are plenty of reasons why many would be happy to see her amend that to “Absolutely.”
In fact she’s already been praised as superior to the President, by a high-ranking government official. Speaking to troops in Georgia with his wife by his side the President said to the men in the audience, “Your goal is to improve your gene pool by marrying somebody who is superior to you."
So below, in no particular order, a list of eight reasons Michelle Obama would make a better presidential candidate than her husband.
8. She’s tougher.
Yes I said it. Somebody had to. A 2007 New York Magazine article on the 2008 presidential primary endorsement derby said it all about who the toughest person in the Obama household is. The article included this gem from Rev. Al Sharpton whose endorsement was being sought after by the remaining Democratic candidates. The anecdote beautifully illustrates that you don’t have to be an angry black woman, to be a woman who gets things done.
“Sharpton thinks Obama should take more cues from his wife, Michelle. He still thinks about the time he bumped into her at a recent Chicago fund-raiser. He claims the conversation went like this.
“How you doing, Mrs. Obama?”
She’s tall, and looked down at him. “I’d do a lot better if we had your endorsement.”
Sharpton tried to play dumb. “What do you mean?”
“We need your endorsement. I’m just telling you straight out: We need your endorsement. What are you going to do?”
Sharpton didn’t know what to say. “I’m like, ‘Uh, well, duh.’ I mean, she was like a sister back in Brownsville, where I grew up!””
Need further proof of just how tough she is? Check out this clip from “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” And by the way, have you seen her arms?
7. She dresses better.
No explanation needed. Okay if you really are in need of an explanation please click here.
6. She has a stronger resume.
For whatever reason there are those who still don’t consider “community organizer” a real job or “real work experience.” (Apparently owning a baseball team is though?) In addition to her work at a major law firm, Michelle Obama worked in various capacities for the city of Chicago, including for the Mayor, and for a non-profit working with City Hall to help youth. She also worked in higher education administration for the University of Chicago and later as a Vice-president for University of Chicago Hospitals.
5. She’s a better dancer and she hula hoops.
This shouldn’t be relevant but considering we live in a country that is statistically more likely to elect the candidate voters would most like to have a beer with, it’s not entirely a stretch to assume something this silly can actually matter. The president may have a nice voice but he’s got nothing on the First Lady when they hit the dance floor. Please watch the dance-off between the President and the First Lady here, courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres, and you be the judge. I must say a dance-off between candidates would certainly liven up the debates. (By the way if anyone has footage of Romney busting a move please post in the comments!) But not only does she dance, she can hula-hoop circles around the competition. See for yourself. Sorry Mr. President but you could never pull this off!
4. She has more credibility on the issue of women’s health.
Compared to some of his conservative counterparts who see no problem with states returning to the good old days of outlawing birth control, President Obama probably seems as comforting as the second coming of Gloria Steinem to nervous progressives. But it wasn’t that long ago that the White House seemed this close to caving to religious extremists over the issue of contraception coverage. As I, and other, women writers noted, this was a reminder of the perils of having your government run entirely by those who have never walked in your shoes; whether those are the shoes of the poor, the disenfranchised, or, frankly a pair of stilettos while walking to your ObGyn. It would be nice to see a conversation about contraception or pay equity actually being led by a woman for a change — a woman who actually has the power to do something about it from the oval office. I know I’m not the only woman who feels that way and plenty of women who do, vote.
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3. Bo would endorse her over him.
Like plenty of households (including the one I grew up in) there are multiple residents who claim the family pet, but usually one who actually takes care of Fluffy, or Mr. Bear or Tiger. In the case of the Obama family, the President can pose for as many photo ops with First Dog Bo as he’d like to but at the end of the day we all know what would happen if they ended up on Judge Judy and the President and First lady stood at opposite sides of the room, calling an unleashed Bo. The President would lose in a landslide as Bo sauntered over to the person who actually walks him and picks up after him.
2. She is more likable.
How do I know? Because the polls say so. While polls show that plenty of Americans who may not agree with the President's policies like him personally, they still don't like him as much as they like his wife. This is not particularly surprising, considering the president has battled allegations of coming across as occasionally aloof and arrogant throughout his career. But it is still a pretty ironic turn of events considering just a few short years ago he was using his own likability to lift her image in the eyes of voters, and since he famously dismissed his then-rival Hillary Clinton as "likable enough" in a debate. It remains to be seen if he is "likable enough" for re-election. There's no question that his campaign can certainly benefit from the likability of his Mrs. this time around.
1. She has more real world economic and financial experience.
For much of their partnership as a power couple, the First Lady’s career eclipsed that of her husband’s. That means that while her husband was idealistically saving the world and championing causes that he cared about and helping to shape young minds as a professor — all admirable pursuits — she was actually dealing with the economic realities that come with being the breadwinner, like stretching her paycheck to accommodate his dreams as well as her own and paying off student loans while simultaneously juggling the costs of a growing family. Furthermore, her jobs in city government involved budgeting and finance. So when it comes to actually balancing a checkbook, let alone striving to achieve a balanced federal budget, my money would be on her over him.
Keli Goff is a Contributing Editor for Loop21.com. Read more at www.keligoff.com