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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Michaelle Obama on the View: One step past the Angry Black Woman

18

June

MichelleobamatheviewlargeBarbara Walters came close, but she didn’t ask the question. Not really.

What she did ask Michelle Obama, when the wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee for president graced Walter’s daytime chatfest The View today: Why is the press saying she might hurt her husband’s campaign amid a flood of attacks about her actual and imagined statements?

What Walters didn’t ask: How do you feel about being portrayed as the Angry Black Woman?

“I wear my heart on my sleeve, just like all of you guys,” said Obama, artfully sidestepping the question Walters never really asked anyway. “One of the things that I’m counting on, is…the more they get to know me, and they get to know my family, it will become clear who I am and what I care about.”

Michelleobamawfw400a083007 Obama's political opponents have tried mightily to cut his support among white voters by suggesting that his image as a politician who cuts across racial lines is a pose. Once upon a time, they used firebrand minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright to build that claim, and there's a growing drumbeat among the political press about the danger of Mrs. Obama's straightforward style offering the same problems.

So it was obvious from the first moments of Michelle Obama’s guest-hosting stint on The View, that her appearance was calibrated to dissipate some of that talk. She took the stage today, passing out fist bumps to all her co-hosts, discoursing on why she hates panty hose (too painful), where the fist bump came from (their young staffers) and what her husband eats for breakfast (they both love their bacon).

During much of their conversation, candid photos of the couple and their children flashed overhead, while Obama handled the gentle grilling from the show’s regular cast with a practiced ease.

“People aren’t used to strong women,” Obama said at one point. “There are times we don’t even know how to talk about them.”

Though she could have been talking about herself, Obama was instead describing Hillary Clinton —saying of Clinton’s chances in the vice presidential selection process: “The one thing a candidate earns is the right to pick the vice president…and I’m just glad I have nothing to do with it.”

Even as Obama charmed the ladies of The View, she cut an imposing figure. Towering over her co-hosts at 5-feet, 11-inches, she’s got a sharp intellect and intense style that some pundits have already begun to caricature — with such “experts” as conservative columnist Cal Thomas including her among the “angry black women” filling media and politics today (somebody forgot to tell him about Oprah).

Still, by the time Whoopi Goldberg was done swooning over her service to the image of “dark, black women” and guest Matthew Broderick was explaining his 5-year-old son’s fervent support for her husband, Obama’s mission was accomplished.

Along the way, maybe she taught a few people that a black woman can be strong, smart, intense and passionate, without being dismissed as “angry.”  (I'm still wondering why Cindy McCain gets a pass on a past that includes stealing drugs from a medical charty she founded and refusing to release details of her beer heiress finances to the public) Let's hope Cal was taking good notes.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:48pm]

    

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