The Obamas

The First Lady is Barack Obama’s Department of “Let’s Get Real”
New books dissected over email.
Jan. 15 2012 7:30 AM

The Obamas


The first lady is Barack Obama’s Department of “Let’s Get Real.”

Barack and Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is President Obama's Department of "Let's Get Real"

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Busted. It's very Michelle of you, in fact, to remind me that you're wise to my tricks. My favorite phrase in the book is that the first lady is Obama's Department of "Let's Get Real." I love that she keeps him from getting too high on his own supply. Two dangers for all presidents are the isolation from normal existence and the massive ego trip that even a well-grounded person tends to go on after years of flattery and adulation. When Michelle tells the Nobel laureate to pick up his dirty socks, it brings Barack back to earth. She calls him out on his faults and evasions for his own good. He knows that it’s good for him and that he needs her to do it.

Another vignette from the book: In September 2006, Sen. Obama admitted to Robert Gibbs, then his chief of staff, that he hadn’t told Michelle in advance that he was going to show up at Tom Harkin’s Iowa steak fry, a traditional early indicator of presidential interest. (Michelle found out from a news report.)"Are you crazy?" Gibbs asked him. But it's obvious why Barack was afraid to tell her. He gets mocked for thinking he's the messiah at home, same as on Fox News.

Love, your running mate.

Jacob Weisberg is chairman and editor-in-chief of The Slate Group and author of The Bush Tragedy. Follow him on Twitter.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.