As with every White House Correspondents' 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 braless. 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, President Obama 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. Please feel free to weigh in with your own in the comments section.
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. 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, 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.
4. She has more credibility on women's health issues.
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 thisClose 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 OB/GYN. It would be nice to see a conversation about contraception or pay equity 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.
Click here to see the rest of the list.
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