Cherie Blair offers Advice to Michelle Obama: You are not equal to the President

Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has written an open letter to Michelle Obama offering advice on life as a first lady. Cherie Blair has a similar background to Michelle, they both studied and practice law, but Cherie did not change her career when her husband was elected. I like to think the Michelle Obama, who has taken leave from her Chicago job, has found a new way to use her skills, not given up on her career.

In the letter, Cherie gives advice on how Michelle should handle her role as first lady.

“I think in the end Michelle’s primary role is to give her husband support and succour,” said Mrs Blair, who continued to work as a QC during her husband’s terms in office at Downing Street.

Mrs Obama, who was educated at Harvard, was also advised that she should never look like she has any power or influence over her husband.

“Once upon a time you could say: ‘Well, he’s got his views, and I’ve got my views,’” added Mrs Blair. “But when he’s elected its almost like you cannot afford to express any separate views,” she said.

Cherie offers more advice in an interview with More magazine.

The open letter was part of an interview for the US magazine More where Mrs Blair was also asked: “So is the spouse discounted even though your marriage was originally one of equals?”

Mrs Blair’s responded: “You have a partnership, and the man and woman are equally educated, but that dynamic changes suddenly when one of them is elected. Whatever it is you’re doing as first lady, it is not equal to being the president of the United States.”

In the interview, Mrs Blair also complained about feeling “silenced” during her husband’s reign at No 10 before passing judgement on Mrs Obama’s potential to influence political agendas.

“A first lady can have influence, but she cannot be seen to have power. She [Mrs Obama] needs to identify causes that she wants to take on – but from an angle that isn’t the hard policy angle. You don’t want to give traction to your husband’s opponents. It’s such a lonely job being president. Not even Michelle can go all the way with him, but she can go further with him than anyone else.”


Michelle has been criticized by some feminists for designating herself ‘Mom-in-Chief’, while Cherie was criticized by some for continuing to work and not giving up her career to take care of the Blair’s four children while their father was Prime Minister. It seems to me you can’t win whether you choose to be a working mother or a stay-at-home-mom, but I applaud Michelle for supporting her husband and children at what is going to be a difficult transition for them, and I applaud Cherie for pursuing her own goals. Both decisions would have been hard to make.

I agree with Cherie that Michelle, on the political agenda, is not as important as the President, but that the role of First Lady must be the most demanding, time consuming and difficult unpaid role in politics. As Cherie says, she’s not as important as the president, but they are both under equal scrutiny and pressure. Michelle is expected to play an active public role as First Lady, in addition to caring for her children and supporting her husband during his most demanding job ever. While in the White House as a whole Michelle might not be the equal of her husband, in the family’s private quarters in her role as his life partner she is.

Michelle and Barack Obama are shown on 2/4/09 in the East Room of the White House “greeting members of Congress and guests after he signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill” They are also shown on 2/3/09 “visiting the 2nd grade class of Capital City Public Charter School in Washington.” Credit: UPI/Newscom. Header image of Michelle Obama on 1/29/09. Cherie Blair is shown on 2/15/09. Credit: WENN

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25 Responses to “Cherie Blair offers Advice to Michelle Obama: You are not equal to the President”

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  1. HEB says:

    lol its not the wives you need to worry about influencing the president its their mistresses…

    (and no I’m not talking about Obama)

  2. FF says:

    Seriously, did anyone ask her for advice? As far as I see it at Michelle Obama is leagues away from what she was. Cherie was always annoying, brittle and had absolutely zero observable emotional connection with her husband at the best of times. Also, she had no sense of style whatsoever.

    I think Cherie needs to realise she’s not married to the PM anymore, and as such, no one really cares what she thinks. Far from giving people advice she might want to retire gracefully from the spotlight – she comes across as repeatedly trying to hang on to the fame.

    As for feminists lot liking Michelle designating herself ‘Mom-in-Chief’ – do they forget that the whole point of feminism was to give women a CHOICE. Not criticise them once they make one. Geez!

  3. geronimo says:

    It’s got to be incredibly hard for professional, independent women (like both here) to suddenly have to watch what they say and be alert to how every little public/private utterance can be twisted and used against them. In Michelle O’s favour, she’s a more likeable person than Cherie Blair who, despite being well educated and a very capable barrister, could grate for England when she put her mind to it and came across (still does) at times as disingenuous and money-grabbing.

  4. anon says:

    cherie blaire needs to shut the fuck up. esp considering that she sat passively by as her husband sucked up to that texas pissant.

  5. Ugh says:

    I agree with “feminism is about choices”. We as women will never band together and stop with the pettiness unless we stop ripping each other to shreds for our personal decisions. I’m one of those “WORK! DONT HAVE BABIES!” types but this is a very special circumstance. I don’t see Michelle giving up her career so much as pulling for her family. They needed to make a show of solidarity. Think how loudly the GOP and others would roar if she stayed in Chicago or, god forbid, made the commute on a regular basis.

  6. J-Lin says:

    Open letter to Cherie:

    Botox can do wonders!

  7. Leandra says:

    Was she trying to bring attention to herself by publishing this lame letter? Michelle Obama, an intelligent woman, can think for herself. She’s been on t.v. saying that she is not interested in politics or giving any advice although yes, they might discuss something at home. These open letters are becoming annoying.

  8. Orangejulius says:

    Anon – I’m looking for a smiley face for you!

  9. Codzilla says:

    Ugh: So if a high-powered career woman decided to stop working and stay home with her kids, and you couldn’t apply this “special circumstance” argument, would you still support her decision? Or shake your head in disgust?

  10. voodoobetty says:

    Cherie Blair is an incredibly intelligent and professional woman. Michelle could learn a lot from her. And jesus who cares about her fashion sense?

    Of course she should have warned her about answering the door in your bathrobe they day after election day. Poor Cherie!

  11. Mr. T says:

    I am grateful I married a Japanese woman. Western women are arrogant and self centered.

  12. Annie says:

    Apparently shake their heads in disgust.

    And that to me is ridiculous.

    Feminism is about advocating that women can do whatever they want (ok it’s more than that, but for succinctness sake..)

    And yet, they condemn her for this.

    I mean, she isn’t exactly the first to treat the VERY IMPORTANT role of First Lady like this, remember Eleanor? She was believed to have an immense amount of influence over FDR and she even helped draft the Human Rights Declaration! Can’t get much more involved politically than that.

    I doubt Michelle thinks she’s equal to the president, but she does believe that she is her HUSBAND’S equal and as such, can voice her opinion to him and know that it is taken with great seriousness. She is his rock.

    And there is nothing wrong with that.

  13. geronimo says:

    Re those saying Blair should button it: She was asked in an interview and she gave her opinion based on her own experiences. If you read what she’s said, there’s very little to argue with. I’m not Cherie’s biggest fan but she lived with the job and is merely pointing out the harsh realities from her own personal and, probably at times, bitter experience.

    Why wouldn’t Michelle O be gratful for the insights of someone with whom she has so much in common – similar age, profession and juggling a young family while in office.

  14. Mairead says:

    LOL.. Mr. T, Western Women are delighted for you – your wife, not so much.

    With geronimo on her last statement – and don’t forget that the pressure included having a baby during one of those terms!

    I have always quite liked Cherie and she managed to deal with the stresses of being the PM’s wife and the head of her own legal firm. Although Matrix Chambers had a lot of critiscism, they’re barristers – being hard-nosed money-grubbers is what they do best (maybe it sounds harsh to those in the legal profession, but I’m currently being very jaundiced when I see the fortune being p*ssed away in my country at endless tribunals with no convictions – it seems that it’s the only part of public funding which isn’t getting further cuts) . At least Matrix did have some human rights agenda.

    The charges of money-grubbing always seemed to come from the likes of “posh-boys” like Piers Morgan, whose only bit of hard graft was to decide who to shaft next. Oh and Private Eye, whose sole remit is to have a pop at political parties anyway…

  15. Rosanna says:

    Cherie is great! A woman who was able to be a mother, a wife, a *professional* and the wife of a Prime Minister. She definitely showed that women don’t need to cover only one of these roles. Michelle Obama, on the other hand, set the clock back, WAY back.

  16. Codzilla says:

    Mr. T: In other words, your wife will shut it and get her ass back in the kitchen on command. Oh, the romance!

  17. JUDY says:

    LOl You may have married a Japanese woman but when she learns english, and how to use a credit card and sees the American way, you can just sit back and write that check every month after she divorces your ass LOL

  18. J-Lin says:

    How did Michelle set the clock back? Michelle isn’t trying to be Wonder Woman and made her first obligation to her children. In today’s economy, staying home with your children is not a choice most of us get to make and I support Michelle 100%, just as I supported Cherie’s choice to go back to work.

  19. Giz says:

    The Bush family has already set the clock back. Didn’t hear the feminist screaming about that!

  20. drm says:

    It is unfortunate for someone as accomplished as Cherie Blair that she comes off sounding like an embittered woman in this interview. Michelle Obama is a completely different person and she is also an American where Cherie Blair as well all well now is British. Huge massive cultural difference particularly when it comes to the culture of class and social positioning that is so alive and well in Great Britian. She should keep her opinions to herself.

  21. drm says:

    Hey CB bring back the edit button LOL scuse the typos peeps typing quickly while tired…

  22. geronimo says:

    @DRM – don’t think embittered, just philosophical. And I completely disagree, culture and class issues are a completely moot point here since neither has any bearing on the realities of being the partner of a head of state. The issues Blair had to deal with are universal and are certainly considerations and potential points of contention for Michelle O. Obama may be a more popular and likeable woman but she will still be judged over time in the way that Blair was during her time ‘in office’. Cherie Blair is just calling a spade a spade and she has every right to do so.

  23. Al says:

    The hell? Mrs. Obama “set the clock back”? How? Because she exercised the right that, as people have said above, feminists have fought long and hard for – the right to choose how she wants to live her life? And because she’s in a position to be able to spend as much time with her family as possible, which isn’t even that much given how demanding the life of the First Family can be?

    I’m not sure when the admission requirements to the feminist club changed to demand a letter of employment for all members…

    That said, another thing that bothers me about people’s critique of Michelle is that for many African American women, the choice to work has never been a choice. From Reconstruction onwards, many African American families have been so poor and so disadvantaged that women HAD to work in order to survive, regardless of whether they would have liked to spend more than two hours a day with their kids or not.

    Speaking from my own experience, my mother was the first woman in her family who was financially able to be a stay-at-home mom for any period of time, and she thought that was the greatest liberation that she could have ever received.

    People need to chill out with this all-women-have-to-work-all-the-time-or-else-they’re-just-house-slaves thing.

  24. Ter says:

    Am I the only one to think that she is actually taking shots at Hillary? And I like it. Hillary had her “bitch, please” hand everywhere. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t vote for her, she just assumed she had all that power and didn’t think that it detracted from her husband, THE president. The power struggle aspect of their marriage was so frustrating and unnecessary, and so hard to swallow.

    Michelle would do well to take the advice of one who’s been there.