The role of First Lady of the United States of America has always been a busy one. From the days of Louisa Adams and her push for women's rights to Laura Bush and her campaign for childhood literacy, First Ladies have had a lot to live up to when it came to how they spent their time and celebrity while living in the White House.
The person who follows in the footsteps of Michelle Obama, though, is going to be a letdown. This is not to say that she won't be wonderful, and philanthropic, and fashionable. I just think America has reached its peak with Mrs. Obama and frankly, she is spoiling us.
Take her recent interview on The (new) Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. She was radiant as she talked about her oldest Malia learning how to drive in the near future. She was passionate when she talked about a new initiative for her Let's Move campaign that encourages Americans to share how they move on social media. Jimmy Fallon was even flustered at one point in the conversation when the First Lady called him on being "that guy" who had sweaty palms at high school dances. I try to catch the television interviews she does, particularly on the late-night circuit, and I always find myself chuckling at her jokes and wit.
She's a smart woman, a strong woman (plastic surgeons everywhere claim their clients want "Michelle Obama arms") and one that has become a celebrity in her own rite. And she has done it all in an approachable way - as if she could be your neighbor, a parent at your children's school or member of your church. It has become virtually impossible to tell the difference between Michelle Obama, the person, and her First Lady persona. There is a seamless connection between the two that has made her a media darling and America's sweetheart.
The five years that Mrs. Obama has occupied the White House are ones that have seen social media outlets grow from infancy to necessities of daily lives. Other First Ladies may have stumbled a bit when it came to staying up with the times, or tried their best to steer clear of the onslaught of even more media attention on new platforms - but this First Lady has not shied away from the online public eye. She has used the best of what new communication provides to reach out to the citizens of the country in innovative ways. When she does push-ups on Ellen, the YouTube video garners 1.8 million views. When she Tweets, it shows up in 5.35 million newsfeeds. Her official Facebook page has 11 million "likes" and her Instagram following is at 641,000. She has not shied away from social media - she has embraced it. And successfully.
She is not without her detractors, of course. She is criticized for being too pretty, being too outspoken and even for spending too much of taxpayers' money on designer clothing (I'd like to see the wardrobe tallies from previous First Ladies - but I digress). Most of the attacks are petty and shallow, devoid of any depth of character issues that are truly worth complaint. Like everything, I assume Mrs. Obama takes all of these criticisms in stride, blocking out the negative energy that would only weigh she and the Obama administration down.
Though it is still nearly three years away, I'm already dreading the loss of Mrs. Obama as First Lady. She brings such a spark to the sometimes dreary stage of world politics. I look forward to what she may do once her White House days are over, knowing that she will leave her own legacy of American greatness along with her husband.
Follow Matthew Lynch, Ed.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lynch39083