The coming issue of Time magazine, arriving on Friday, looks at the debate over the pros and cons of Michelle Obama's on-the-stump performance, in an article not yet online. Some critics in the media have suggested that she is too "negative" in her appraisal of the downturn in economic and quality of life issues in America, but two Time reporters find that she connects to many who agree with her and feel "that they are seeing for the first time a political figure who understands what their lives are really about."
Meanwhile, in an interview, Democratic Party boss Howard Dean calls for the end of the electoral college: "It's unrepresentative of where the American people are. It was fine for the days of the Pony Express, but it's not necessary to avoid a popular vote on Presidents now."
In their Michelle Obama piece, which is titled, "The War over Michelle," Time's Nancy Gibbs and Jay Newton-Small note that conservatives and some others "hear 'whining' from a woman preaching a 'Gospel of Misery,' about everything from her student loans to the high cost of piano lessons," and other "deteriorating conditions."
They point out: "They are probably right that most Americans have a happier impression of the past 40 years. But the skies have darkened in the past year... Those who hear Michelle in person often talk about feeling that they are seeing for the first time a political figure who understands what their lives are really about."
The article is fairly balanced but comes down mainly on her side. After noting complaints by conservatives, the writers observe: "The attacks make one wonder how those who find Michelle Obama's gritty realism out of bounds would mount a campaign in this climate. By suggesting everything is swell? By gliding silently over the battered economic landscape at home in order to talk instead only about terrorism abroad?"
Howard Dean also discusses in this issue the idea of a single national primary day: "I think we do need to condense the schedule, but I also think that if you have them on a single day, it's like having a national election. We learn a lot about these candidates as they go through all these states."
The issue also features a Karen Tumulty appraisal of Hillary Clinton's exit strategy -- such as it is -- and a Joe Klein column on John McCain's anti-Iran comments.
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. It features a preface by Bruce Springsteen and a foreword by Joe Galloway. Mitchell is editor of Editor & Publisher.