M.Obama is not a tesstrueheart or fainting lily of a woman who stands behind her man and yet that is the card she is playing right now. I do not think this will last, but it is very interesting to watch the machinations of her transition toward life inside the beltway. And M.Obama is no dummy, so I figure she has watched the post-game footage and monday-morning-quaterbacked on the wrath that Hillary incurred in her past transitioning. Also, this is a very different kind of first family as one can see on the surface, but the differences in this political family run very differently than those of other powerful families. Coming to DC as they are, not from a dynasty, provides a unique perspective on the role that world leaders play in their local provinces and the larger community. With statements like:
Michelle Obama remarked that her husband, who “hasn’t changed much over the years,” is not too concerned about his appearance. “Barack still has the same pants and shirts that he had when we got married, which is why I crack up when people say he is one of the best dressed men,” she said. “I think that maybe that means like he looks good in his clothes because he is tall and thin, but if you look up close, the pants have a hole in the back. And the shoes, I looked at them the other day and I said, you need new shoes.”
M.Obama ensures that her family is set apart from the silliness of the dynastic presidential figures that came before. Ironically, she has most closely linked with Jackie O. for her fashionable and elegant sense and sensibility… but I think the statement above is a distancing of such connections. M.Obama is not a Kennedy.
And though M.Obama sent her children off to school today like the rest of us mamas, she did send them off to the posh and very elite Sidwell Friends acadamie. And like other working mamas, she did not spend her first childfree day (as if there was ever such a thing) lunching and rubbing elbows with ladies of power within the beltway of her new abode like so many other first ladies before her. The Obama team announced today that there will be a new inaugural ball this year: a Neighborhood Ball with lowpriced tickets mostly reserved for the District of Columbia residents. For those not in the know: DC boasts one the the largest African American communities in the country… having a Presidential Inaugural Ball just for that community is another remarkable message about connecting the White House with it’s locale.
My own firsthand experiences force me to recognize that this is a whole new dynamic. When I first moved to Washington DC, I was abhorred by what I saw. From my high school history class I knew that the riots of ’68 had swept through the streets surrounding the White House. What I did not know was that each and every president who occupied that powerful address had been flown or driven past these streets and not one of them, not a one, had championed funding to repair or remedy the damage that had been done. Congressional members for over 20 years had to detour or traverse the area to get to their jobs everyday. It was not until Clinton’s 2nd term that anyone even did anything at all to help the situation. The riots exploded because of the grief and anger the residents felt about the assinations of ’68. I was thoroughly disgusted and dismayed that even in 1990 each president could fail to look out their back windows and see the painful lives of their neighbors. It was a terrible shock to my youthful idealism. I had always thought that maybe the leaders just couldn’t see the hurt they caused in some of their policy choices; and I had to face the reality that policy could be purchased; and that the citizenry of Washington DC could be a servant-class, but not readily win rights of statehood or even at the very least, draw attention to their daily lives.
As the soon-to-be president is already weighed down by the matters of the world and the dismall state of our union, this new Neighborhood Ball is an incredibly strong signifier of the M.Obama firstladying. I am thankful and am hopeful for good changes in the wind. I wish I could be there to feel the air.