First Lady Faulted Aides For Fixating on Politics, Not Promised New Policies


As support for her husband continued to flag, including among his more ardent early defenders, Michele Obama injected herself further and ramped up her candor.

Kantor, whose book is based on interviews with 30 current and former aides, writes: "But that spring, Mrs. Obama made it clear that she thought her husband needed a new team, according to her aides. When the president decided to deliver a lofty speech about overhauling immigration laws in June 2010, even though there was no legislation on the table and the effort could hurt vulnerable Democrats, Mr. [former White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel objected.

According to the book, she clashed with Emanuel, "a president whose agenda had hit the rocks, a first lady who disapproved of the turn the White House had taken, and a chief of staff who chafed against her influence," the Times writes.

"Aides did not produce the speech he wanted and the president stayed up much of the night rewriting — but the address drew a flat reception. Mr. Obama was irritated, two advisers said …" according to the book.

Amid the tensions of 2010, Emanuel offered to resign. His boss passed up the offer. Emanuel took office as Chicago's mayor in May 2011.

Mrs. Obama struggled at times with public perception and the fishbowl of the White House, reportedly telling the French president's wife that life there was hell, though she and the administration quickly backed away from that.

Matters such as "how the Obamas should look and live, travel and entertain," became concerns, the Times writes. "As the first African-American first lady, she wanted everything to be flawless and sophisticated; she felt 'everyone was waiting for a black woman to make a mistake,' a former aide said," according to the Times.

White House press secretary Eric Schultz told Bloomberg News that the book as it concerns Mrs. Obama is "an over dramatization of old news."

"The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the president and first lady, reflect little more than the author's own thoughts," Schultz said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "These second-hand accounts are staples of every administration in modern political history and often exaggerated."

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