Barack Obama: Michelle had an ‘underlying tension’ living in the White House

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Barack Obama didn’t do a ton of *advanced* promotion for his book, A Promised Land, but now that it’s out, he’s been on magazine covers and giving interviews with more regularity. Maybe he avoided the advanced hype because he didn’t want to distract from the election. Perhaps. Anyway, Barry covers the latest issue of People Magazine, and they conducted an exclusive interview with him, mostly focusing on his family and his marriage to Michelle Obama.

Talking to Michelle about wanting to run for president: “She gave me a hard look and got up from the couch. ‘God, Barack…When is it going to be enough?’ Before I could answer, she’d gone into the bedroom and closed the door.”

He writes about how their marriage wasn’t great during the presidency: Once in the White House, he sensed an “undercurrent of tension in her, subtle but constant” and a “loneliness” so worrisome that it could keep him awake. “There were nights when, lying next to Michelle in the dark, I’d think about those days when everything between us felt lighter, when her smile was more constant and our love less encumbered and my heart would suddenly tighten at the thought that those days might not return.”

Marital tension: “That was the truth of our time in the White House. Michelle very much believed in the work I did but was less optimistic about what I could get done. … She’s more skeptical about politics and more mindful of the sacrifices to the family.” Nonetheless, “I think we came out of it whole. There were great joys in the White House. There was never a time where we didn’t recognize what an extraordinary privilege it was to be there. Most importantly, our children emerged intact and they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful, creative — and not entitled — young women. So that’s a big sigh of relief. But, during the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension. The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be ‘on’ at every moment.”

Michelle is a worrier: “I tend to be ‘uh, that’ll be fine,’ and I worry a little bit less, just temperamentally…There were times where I think she was frustrated or sad or angry but knew that I had Afghanistan or the financial crisis to worry about, so she would tamp it down.”

They exhaled after they left the White House: “We did. It was like a big exhale right after we left office.” For both of them. “It took some time to talk about how she had felt. Once [the presidency] was done, there was possibility of her opening up … but more importantly just her being able to let out a breath and relax. You know the old adage, ‘if mom’s happy, everybody’s happy’? It very much applies in our household.” Mrs. Obama “has been more relaxed and more joyful since we left office. That allowed us to just enjoy the deep love that comes with a marriage this long. But also to be friends again.”

[From People]

I appreciate that they’ve both always talked about how their marriage has never been easy, and how they’ve had their struggles and bad phases like everybody else. They are so temperamentally different, it’s kind of a wonder that they have been able to stick together for so long. I think Michelle is so grounded and yes, such a worrier, and that helps Barack from floating off. And maybe he helps her worry less. I always felt like Michelle became a much happier person, in her marriage and in life, when she became First Lady. Yes, it was an enormous spotlight, but she also got to keep her family all in one place at one time.

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96 Responses to “Barack Obama: Michelle had an ‘underlying tension’ living in the White House”

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  1. SJ Knows says:

    He is so well spoken! I love this guy.
    B&M were good in the WH, classy, smart, etc. they represented the US on the world stage and did a brilliant job.

    • Meredith says:

      Trying to figure out how to say this nicely…please don’t say how well-spoken someone is when you’re speaking about a person of color, specifically a black person. I know you mean well but casual statements like that are harmful. Luvvie sums it up best here: https://ideas.ted.com/why-we-need-to-call-out-casual-racism/

      ETA: If you mean in comparison to the clown we currently have in the WH, then yes, most everyone is more well spoken than he is. Hell, I think my cat is more well spoken than our president and my cat isn’t the brightest.

      • CatWomen says:

        I read all day. He is an exceptional good writer.

      • Mellie says:

        In my opinion he is one of the most well spoken presidents of modern times. Period. He is knows exactly what to say and how to say it intelligently. I could listen to this man all day long.

      • jules says:

        I think it’s 100% in relation to the president currently residing in office. I’m not sure how you could possibly equate this to a comment about the colour of his skin.

      • Jaded says:

        What?? How can you turn an honest compliment on how articulate someone is into a racist insult? He is a wonderful speaker and writer and is lauded for it, his colour has nothing to do with it. I’ve said that about loads of people – black, white, whatever. You appear to see things from a very slanted perspective.

      • jules says:

        Thank you @jaded. You captured my feelings and sentiments about this ridiculous comment much better than I could.

      • Savannah says:

        He is a very measured and thoughtful speaker. I work in PR and I’ve actually learned quite a bit from him about pacing. In our society, we don’t value this as much as we should, everyone speaks so quickly.

      • Barnes says:

        As usual, people refuse to listen when POC and black people speak. You should absolutely not call Obama “well-spoken or articulate”. There are other ways of complimenting his skills in communication, writing, and delivering speeches.
        https://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/weekinreview/04clemetson.html

      • Myself, I’m taking this as well-spoken as his role as President on the world stage…and Obama has to be one of the most intelligent, articulate, well spoken Presidents since the beginning of electronic media. During the worst of the Trump Years I have deliberately sought out Obama’s recorded speeches and just luxuriated in listening to reasoned discourse over that narcissistic traitor who has used the office solely for his own aggrandizement and greed. Obama’s speech before the joint Parliament in England is probably one of my all time faves. Both the Obamas’ rock. Just like the rest of us they are not perfect, but they strike me as honest, passionate, and committed to always striving for a better version of themselves and a world we can all live in. Michelle’s book was outstanding I’m now reading his most recent and it is his best yet.

      • Lemons says:

        He is well-spoken as any man or woman. He is incredibly intelligent and articulate. Hearing him in interviews, I am reminded of how much of a skill it is to be able to eloquently express one’s thoughts.

        @Meredith, we have all had to deal with having a literal buffoon as President for the past 4 years with his sycophantic followers and goons unable to articulate much besides MAGA and lies.

        I am so happy to see Obama back on the “stage” enjoying his book tour.

      • McMe says:

        Thank you for saying this. I am a black woman who is told regularly how articulate and well-spoken I am. This is usually in response to me making mundane small talk a white person at the grocery store, at the gas station, at the gym, etc. I’ve been told I speak English well more times than I can count to which I reply “it is my first language.”

        The original poster obviously didn’t mean any harm in her post. There’s also no harm in pointing out a painful reality for POC.

        There’s a difference between being well-spoken and articulate, and being a great speaker. Obama is a great speaker.

      • Case says:

        I understand why it is problematic to compliment people of color for being well-spoken in the context of some people not “expecting” people of color to be well-spoken or articulate. But I do wonder how to say something similar about a POC when you just genuinely mean it in the way you’d say it about anyone else you find intelligent and wonderful to hear speak or read their writing? Do you just not say it at all? Do you phrase it differently? I’m not asking this in a defensive way, I just genuinely don’t know. President Obama is, I believe, a great orator and writer. One of the finest we’ve had in the White House. He’s cool, charming, classy, and eloquent and I have so much admiration for him as a man and a politician. I would hope there is some way to be able to express this without it sounding like I’m saying “you write well for a Black guy” because that’s not what I’m saying at all.

      • Nini says:

        Uh, Barack Obama is one of the most well-spoken and articulate people ON THE PLANET and the idea that it’s inherently racist to say so is beyond insanity. This smacks of the “diversity training” that went viral recently that said things like being on time is a white supremacist value. The snake is eating its own tail — the notion that if a well-spoken and articulate person is black, saying so is racist, and being on time is white supremacy are both MONUMENTALLY RACIST notions.

        If you act like Obama being articulate is some kind of surprise or something unusual, or are condescending about it, THAT’S racist. If you say he’s articulate just because HE IS ARTICULATE there is nothing racist about it and PLEASE stop acting like it is.

      • Siggy says:

        I read that comment and thought they were noting his eloquence. I think he’s widely regarded as one one the most eloquent speakers generally.

        I wonder if it was phrased differently that the comment wouldn’t have offended? Maybe the statement itself is triggering?

      • pottymouth pup says:

        I’m white and I’m guessing the folks offended by @Meredith’s comment are as well. To those of you taken aback at what she said, please understand that commenting that a Black person, a well-respected Harvard Law grad & former POTUS no less, is “articulate”/”speaks well”/”is well spoken” and similar is perceived as a a microagression because there is a long history of white people using those words to express surprise that a Black person is capable of speaking like like the intelligent adult they are

      • Soupie says:

        I am white and I’ve always just loved listening to Barack Obama. I don’t give a shi- whether he’s black, white or purple. I never even think about that and never did. I just think about how much I love listening to him because he’s so brilliant, and like it was stated above: well paced.

      • Emmitt says:

        Luvvie is the last person anyone should be listening to about racism against black people (black Americans in particular). She’s been caught several times displaying her own prejudice against black Americans by way of slurs etc.

      • Bibi says:

        @Meredith
        All this …..1000%

        I’ve never heard a white person be described as “well-spoken” only POCs, so, to those who’re indignant over being called out maybe listen instead of doubling down in your wrongness. Use other words -orator, gifted, wonderful- to convey your admiration.

      • Anna says:

        Thank you @Meredith This is the truth. Appreciate your courage in saying something and in providing an educational link for those who may be inclined to dismiss this fact.

      • Yup, Me says:

        THERE ARE NO PURPLE PEOPLE.

      • Emma33 says:

        I’ve caught myself as I’ve started to describe Obama as ‘articúlate’ before, because I know it’s used as a micro-aggression against people of color. I usually try to be more specific and describe him as a wonderful orator or writer.

        I do think the issue becomes a bit muddled when talking about Obama, because his way of articulating his thoughts in spoken or written word is just so beautiful – it is one of his stand-out skills. Also, unfortunately, it’s also something that has been used as a back-handed compliment about people of color, so I just don’t go there.

        I think there is room for a nuanced discussion about this, which I think is what has happened on this thread!

      • Jess says:

        I can see how that comment is problematic, like it’s a shock when a black person is well spoken or something. While reading this interview I thought, “god I miss having a charismatic and well spoken president”, I think Obama just stands out in comparison to Trump so people mention it more often now, but you really don’t hear of white people being described as well spoken.

        Thank you for the insight Meredith, I never stopped to think about it before but I will in the future.

      • Godwina says:

        @Bibbi Meredith’s point is valid and true, but saying you’ve never heard a white person described as well-spoken has to be selective perception nonsense. I’ve heard it applied to white people plenty over the years, including myself! (but of course, it comes from a different place than the “he’s so articulate!’ in re. a Black man, which makes me cringe).

      • Stacey says:

        Oh, honestly, just stop it. Barack Obama is an exceptionally articulate and compelling man. And it has nothing to do with, or to be overcome by, his race. So please, just stop it.

      • WTF says:

        @Stacey
        I was just thinking the same thing. Stop it. Just stop pretending (especially after the last 4 years) that race isn’t an issue. Stop condescending to people of color when they point this crap out. This whole well spoken thing has been explained to death. But fine, even if you don’t understand it, people of color are telling you it’s a problem. That honestly should be enough. So please, just stop.

      • Lorelei says:

        I’m white and understand exactly what Meredith is saying; I learned this years ago. To say he is an exceptional speaker is fine, but “well spoken” is not something typically said about white people. The bottom line is that POC find it offensive so I just don’t say it.

        ETA I don’t think SJ had anything but good intentions and was absolutely saying it as a compliment, so this is not a slight on her at ALL. I’m just glad Meredith brought it up in the gentle way she did so more people will be aware of it going forward.

      • Maryscott O'Connor says:

        I was definitely thinking… He’s well-spoken COMPARED TO TRUMP. (And GWB, but god, compared to TRUMP.) You never want to hear anyone compliment a Black man with those types of phrases, just because they always come across as backhanded…

        But when it’s Obama and it’s just after we’ve endured that freaking CLOWN, that IMBECILE… you feel like making an exception, you know?

        And there again, as many have noted – Barack Obama is probably THE most well-spoken President in modern history. He IS preternaturally articulate. He’s an amazing speaker. So, there’s that. But for any white person to act as if they are UNAWARE of the USUALLY racist implications of that backhanded compliment – that’s just stupid.

        He’s simply exceptional as a human being. Period. I remember the 2004 Democratic Convention; after his Keynote address, I called a friend and told her, “I just saw our first Black President speak.” I had no idea how SOON he’d be POTUS… but I knew he would be. He just blew me away with that speech – and many more to come.

        Oh, GOD, how I’ve missed him. All of them. January 20 cannot come quickly enough.

        Please, though – GEORGIA DEMOCRATS and ANYONE SANE in Georgia… PLEASE vote OSSOFF and WARNOCK on January 5… please.

    • Shadeau says:

      This is absolutely one of those situations where, even if you mean this in the best possible way (and I believe that is true of everyone in this thread), you should avoid using the terms “articulate” and “well spoken” in relation to Black people because of the history of how those terms have been used. Please listen to Black people when they tell you it is problematic.

      • Nini says:

        Please don’t speak for all Black people especially when it comes to something that FAR more Black people disagree with you on instead of agreeing with you.

      • Sasha says:

        This comment is directed at the (I assume) mostly white people in the comments: People who feel indignant outrage when they have it pointed out to them that something well intentioned that they did has racist undertones – why don’t you reflect on that outrage and your instinctive need to defend yourself. It’s possible for well intentioned comments that FEEL harmless TO YOU to nevertheless do harm to others, for reasons you would not understand instinctively because you haven’t lived a life where the colour of your skin has ever been a factor in anything that happens to you. Just because it didn’t occur to you that something could have racist connotations and undertones does not ipso facto make you a blameless white victim of ‘political correctness gone mad’. And I say all this as someone who passes for white and is half British. Seriously people. Just calm down and listen to people before leaping to your own defence.

      • ElleV says:

        THIS!

        For me, getting defensive about calling a Black person articulate is like defending calling someone by the same pet name their abusive ex used. It doesn’t matter if the name isn’t insulting on paper, or if you meant well, or if there’s a chance they wouldn’t mind – a good friend wouldn’t go there if they knew the history!

        And if I used the nickname without realizing the history, and my friend or a mutual called me out, I wouldn’t get into a debate about whether it was actually hurtful – I’d appreciate the correction because I don’t want to hurt them.

      • Katherine says:

        Exactly. President Obama even goes into this exact thing in his book. And a lot of racially loaded expectations when he was coming up through the senate about being called articulate and well-spoken and clean-cut. By Joe Biden of all people (among others), his eventual running mate!

        Yes he does have excellent communication, public speaking, and writing skills. That’s not under discussion. But all I see on this comment thread are white tears about being called out on how we as a society talk about this. Well-spoken in the context of complimenting POC IS racially loaded. And you need to listen to what POC are telling you when they say it’s problematic. But as per usual: we get a million justifications that it’s just a compliment and no offense intended. Maybe re-read White Fragility and actually listen to and contemplate what you’re being told. Well-spoken is a backhanded and loaded compliment to POC. The end.

      • ElleV says:

        Hadn’t seen Nini’s comment when I posted above so I wanted to add:

        Totally get that no group of people is a monolith (especially when it comes to race). That said, if I hear from a few people or even one person in a given context, “Heads up, this hurts us and could hurt other people like us,” I’m going to be mindful of that because it makes no difference to the people who wouldn’t care regardless, but a HUGE difference to the people it bothers.

      • Blinkbanana says:

        The white fragility on this thread is astounding. Go educate yourselves and do not shout down Black and Brown people when they tell you that words like “well-spoken” are problematic. You just don’t know because you haven’t lived it. And you all pat yourselves on the backs for being anti-racist smh

      • Anna says:

        Agree and thank you @Shadeau These instances need to be addressed because they are part of why casual racism in language and deed are accepted, and then it becomes that much harder for non-BIPOC to acknowledge.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Good point. People are prepared to see themselves as victims of pc culture at the slightest critique- even without anger, cruelty, or insults. But not every reminder is a personal attack or a competition.

      • Amy Too says:

        A: “Hi welcome to the party. We’re having pepperoni, sausage, onion, mushroom pizzas! Enjoy!”

        B: “Thanks. I don’t know how to say this, I don’t want to be mean of offensive or make you feel bad, but I’m actually allergic to mushrooms. So is my whole family. In fact 60% of blonde people are allergic to mushrooms. When we eat mushrooms, they cause us physical and emotional pain. When we see mushrooms, we’re reminded of all the times we had to go to the hospital due to an allergic reaction, and that makes us feel really uncomfortable around mushrooms. I know you didn’t know that, but I’d like to ask if, going forward, you could maybe leave the mushrooms off the pizza?”

        A: “OMG! You’re so dramatic! I didn’t MEAN to kill you or hurt you when I ordered mushrooms. Mushrooms themselves aren’t actually poisonous or offensive. They’re just offensive to you because you’re allergic, not to everyone. I didn’t know that people could have mushroom allergies! There are a bunch of people here who are actually okay with mushrooms. My friend C is blonde and she’s fine with mushrooms.”

        C: “yeah, I don’t necessarily like mushrooms, and I don’t order them for myself or for my friends when I’m throwing a party, but I’m not actually allergic to mushrooms and they don’t kill me or remind me of traumatic trips to the hospital. So it doesn’t upset me when A has mushrooms on the pizza because I know she doesn’t mean any harm and was just trying to offer us a tasty pizza.”

        B: “I get that. But for a me personally, and a lot of blonde people, mushrooms can actually hurt us. So I just like to educate people about mushroom allergies and ask them to please just leave them off the pizza next time now that they know about mushroom allergies. Because you’re very likely to have someone who has a mushroom allergy come to your party and rather than make them sick and uncomfortable, why not just be safe and not have mushrooms? I’m totally fine with the pepperoni, sausage, and onions on these pizzas, and I can eat around the mushrooms this time rather than just leave the party in a huff. I think bacon, tomato, extra cheese, or olives would be a good replacement for mushrooms next time.”

        A: “this is ridiculous and you’re being mean and crazy and overreacting. I know what I meant when I ordered mushrooms. And I think a lot of other people do too. I just meant to throw a nice pizza party with toppings that I thought everyone could enjoy. I know some people might be allergic to the mushrooms, but I didn’t think anyone with an allergy would actually show up tonight. Or I thought if they were allergic to mushrooms they would at least know that I ordered mushrooms with good intent and didn’t mean to hurt them. I’m going to keep ordering mushrooms on the pizzas because I know that some people are fine with mushrooms and that a lot of the people who don’t like mushrooms won’t make a big deal out of them. They’ll just pick them off and ignore them. I’m sorry you can’t just ignore the mushrooms this time and instead made everything awkward by attacking me at my own party when I was just trying to give you some pizza.”

    • Zazu says:

      In 1996 Chris Rock said, of Colin Powell:
      “ Whenever he on the news, White people always give him the same compliments, always the same compliments. ‘He speaks so well.’ … Like that’s a compliment… What the fuck did you expect him to sound like?!”

      They used to say Frederick Douglass couldn’t be a slave since he spoke too well, so his searing autobiography on the evils of slavery must be a lie.

      So, perhaps considering adjusting the wording, when there is this context behind it. If you’re white, it’s part of your bubble wrap of privilege to feel totally confused about how a compliment like ‘well spoken’ could be criticized. No one means you are a card carrying kkk member type of racist. Just that you could be more informed, and learn how damning with faint praise (oh, this Black person is well-spoken! …so the others are not?) was always part of reinforcing anti-black stereotypes.

    • Redd crush says:

      Yeah. No! As a Black woman I can assure you that being called well spoken is NOT a compliment. Why can’t white people just take our word that this comes across as racist af?

      • Lou says:

        Exactly. Just say he’s a great orator! He’s a brilliant writer! Say you love how he phrases his thoughts with depth and feeling! It’s not hard to just avoid the phrases ‘articulate’ and ‘well spoken’.

        Disappointed to see so many commenters butthurt about this being correctly pointed out. ‘Articulate’ is a loaded compliment. We all know the original commenter didn’t mean anything by it. But just take the tip and keep it in mind.

      • osito says:

        It’s days later, and I’m appalled by the anger and outrage at something that we’ve been talking about for as long as I’ve been alive.

        Just this summer we were on the “believe BIPoC” train, but it looks like some us got tired of the journey and got off at “stop making *everything* about race” station. This is painful.

        And as a BIPoC who has been called “well spoken” by white people and “white sounding” by my own people for my whole life, neither is a comfort is a comfort nor a compliment. President Obama’s writing in this excerpt is compelling and immersive — his love for his family and his sense of duty to the nation are presented cinematically, so that as I reader, I felt as though I had a front-row seat to Mrs. Obama’s Herculean effort to rise above her misgivings about her husband’s ambition and the country’s ability to accept his greatness. I can feel the President’s fear and pain about what he was sacrificing for the benefit of this nation — was it worth it if he couldn’t accomplish as much as he wanted?

        Was that more clear than “he’s so articulate?” I expect a writer to be well spoken. That’s the bare minimum of what we want from a book. When the Dump(ster fire) memoirs are released, you’d better believe that a “well spoken” ghost writer will be hired to write them. So let’s all be more intentional with our words. Let’s all be clearer about what we mean. And when you say or do something racist, even when it’s unintentional, let’s not break out the pitchforks to poke those we’ve hurt. The whole point of whiteness is that it’s been a tool used to hurt us ways you never see. This was one. Please stop. Let’s stop acting like Dump and his cronies and minions.

  2. Southern Fried says:

    O how I love them! They will always be My President and Forever First Lady. That said, I’m very excited about the Biden/Harris years.

  3. Lightpurple says:

    This is why I cringe when I see someone say Michelle should be appointed to a cabinet position or judgeship or when people were arguing that she should have been nominated as VP. She doesn’t want it. She never wanted it. It is not who she is. This wonderful woman gave us eight years of her life; eight years of her family; eight years when she was not allowed to drive a car or just walk out in the yard; eight years when every article of clothing was analyzed, every hairstyle critiqued. Let her have her life back. Let her enjoy what she accomplished. Let her enjoy time with her husband and daughters. Let her enjoy her time with her aging mother. Let her be. Let her be free. She gave us more than enough.

    • Savannah says:

      Agreed. Simply put, she’s too good for politics.

      • Lwt00 says:

        100%.

        Unlike many a First Lady, Michelle had a laundry list of accomplishments and she put it all aside to support his congressional career and presidency. 8+ long years. Of course there was tension. Of course she was upset when he wanted to run; she’s no idiot and she knew how long and hard a slog it would be and the risks it presented to her family on multiple levels.

        I’m glad her husband knows and acknowledges how much of his success is due to her ability to grit her teeth and focus on the greater good. Now that their girls are launched as young adults, I hope Michelle rests a little easier and has more of a say in the day to day of her life.

      • Emmitt says:

        I think most of the recent First Ladies with the obvious exception of Melania Trump have been accomplished. I find it interesting all of the First Ladies (excluding Rosalynn Carter and Melania Trump) all have bachelors degrees or higher. Jill Biden has a doctorate, for crying out loud. Michelle Obama obviously had a higher hurdle to get over because of her race and what so many people thought a black woman should act like. Barack needs to thank his lucky stars every day she never left him over this POTUS business…a lesser woman probably would have.

    • sassafras says:

      THANK YOU. I’ve used up so much energy trying to remind people of this. I think people who insist that Michelle needs to be in public office haven’t actually read her book or LISTENED to the woman.

    • Truthiness says:

      Cosign and I think we need to add the 2 years prior to the presidency, it’s at least 10 years of service. I am a third of the way through a Promised Land and she was doing ALL of the family work, while working herself before Barack’s election. A job, 2 daughters, a globe trotting husband, and she could look gorgeous or speak to reporters at a moment’s notice when Barack needed it. We knew being the first first lady of color would be a tightrope act far more difficult than any before her and she performed with flying colors.The quote about women having to do it just as well or better, dancing backward and in high heels applies here, but even more so because she is a woman of color.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      True. She and her family have been through a lot.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree. She’s made it very clear that she doesn’t want that. I know people love her and would love to vote for her or whatever, but she doesn’t want it.

      After reading her book (haven’t read his yet) i definitely feel that she’s the realist, he’s the dreamer, and it was all very hard on her. I don’t think she was happier once they were in the White House, I think it was constant pressure and scrutiny and worry. She absolutely respected the role of FLOTUS and did great things with it, but I feel she’s much happier now that’s behind her, and she has the experience and clout, but now has freedom.

  4. Noki says:

    @ SJ Knows..I used to side eye anyone who would say a POC was ‘well spoken’ but i get what you mean in this instance. There have been some such bimbling and incompetant public speakers holding that office is recent years(Bush,Trump) that you really have to appreciate how well spoken and presidential Obama is.

    • AndaPanda says:

      I know what you mean. As someone who
      had been deemed “well spoken” by my non POC classmates , then subsequently colleagues, it’s super annoying. However, I agree, President Obama is incredibly charismatic and has the gift of public speaking (or perhaps he just worked really hard at it) so I never register it as a backhanded compliment as is often the case.

    • kacy says:

      I think a better way to communicate this is to say that he’s the best orator of this era.

    • L4frimaire says:

      Obama is a very expressive and erudite writer. The way he writes, you can actually hear his voice, and how he inspires. Reagan, Kennedy, and Clinton were all great communicators, and it’s a rare skill. Obama has this same quality that goes beyond being articulate, which is the basic of political office. Neither Bushes,especially W., were very articulate or expressive in that way, don’t recall Nixon being that way ( the paranoia defines him), but too young to remember. Trump is a raging mess but he seems to be able to get his MAGATs to believe the lies he tells them. Obama had that extra quality that goes beyond the rhetoric and inspires and reached beyond the words on the page, because he is an amazing writer and has this disarming quality as well.I really enjoyed Michelle’s book and could feel that tension he mentioned in her writing, and that she held back a lot. Anyway, look forward to reading this book.

  5. Amy Bee says:

    I think the Obamas and the Sussexes would find a lot of similarities in their situations. It would be interesting to know if they’ve spoken about their experiences.

  6. VS says:

    I love and admire them both so much……. the vitriol Michelle had to endure from racists who felt free to comment and insult her about anything and everything
    It is great to know they are in a good place. I actually think different temperament is good or desirable…..if you are a worrier, why would you marry another worrier? I have always seen marriage like getting with someone who can complement you not be your twin….my own opinion! my parents are different, their background and skin color; they manage to make it work despite some lows they were trying to hide from us….LOL

  7. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I wouldn’t say Michelle was happy during the WH years. Especially just based on what Barack himself says. I think she made the beat of the situation for her family and especially her daughters and I think the reason why those girls have turned out so wonderfully is because Michelle (and Barack) was hyper-focused on their well being during those years.

    • MerlinsMom1018 says:

      I can’t fathom why ANYONE would want the job of President. No matter what you do, it’s going to be not good enough for some people.
      I agree with you that she wasn’t happy, but because she’s classy and brilliant and pragmatic she just squared up and got on with it, and just knocked it out of the park during the entire 8 years. She’s just amazing!!

    • Harper says:

      There was a period of time where Michelle vacationed with the girls while Barack would take a golf vacation in another location, and I thought that was a really bad sign that the family was not together. One of the things I love about Michelle was her insistence that, as the female, she was not automatically going to silently carry their family life because her husband had professional goals that took him away from the family. The stories she told of insisting he take out the garbage or whatever when he would finally make it back from Springirled (pre-WH) were so kick-ass. When they were taking those separate vacations during the WH years I honestly thought they would split once his second term ended. I am so glad Barack acknowledges her unhappines/tension because it’s real and I’m sure Michelle was just hurting and tired so much of the time. It sounds like they are in a good spot now.

      • Cassandra says:

        I just learned from this thread that the Obamas were taking separate vacations during his presidency.

        I miss that-not knowing about my president’s personal life because it’s not in the news every damn day

  8. Katie says:

    their marriage works because 1) they are both extraordinary people easy to fall in love with over and over, 2) they both have impeccable ethics and are dedicated to making this work instead of looking for minutiae pleasures like most people

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Our country was so blessed to have them as our public face and representing us. Wow I miss them.

  10. Escondista says:

    I’m sure she spent a good amount of time worrying about her husband or children being killed because of the temperature of this country.

  11. Mumbles says:

    I will never forget the grief this woman got for anything she did. The GOP mocked her seeemingly non controversial platform of kids eating healthy. That toad Sarah Palin accused her of wanting to outlaw French fries and did a publicity stunt of bringing cookies into a school to protest her campaign. It was just so cruel, but I guess the cruelty is the point.

    I wonder if Obama’s nonconventional upbringing contributed to his less-worrying personality.

    • Emmitt says:

      Barack Obama’s black parent was not American and he was raised by his white family so Barack Obama did not believe there were any limits.

      Michelle Obama’s black family was American and was limited in all aspects of their lives solely because of the color of their skin. Most black Americans believe there are limits (because historically for black Americans, there have been).

      Michelle simply did not believe he could win & probably did not want him to win because historically black people who rise above a certain level are cut down (see: Meghan Markle).

      Michelle believed in Barack but she could not believe in the American people because historically the American people don’t like it when black people rise above a certain level.

      In my opinion, Barack Obama not having a black American parent probably helped him because it could be said “he’s not like the rest of them.” Kamala Harris also falls under this category to the point where people are claiming she is not black at all.

      • Anna says:

        Agreed @Emmitt And that they are TCK (Third Culture Kids) made them much more internationally and nationally able to rise to the levels they have. Imho, this country is not ready to elect an African-American candidate for this level of government.

      • Original Penguin says:

        Becoming does address this as you say. Both from a family history point of view but also a personal one- with the guidance counsellor ‘episode’

  12. tempest prognosticator says:

    …and yet, she handled everything that came her way during those 8+ years with dignity and grace. *sigh* I love this couple.

  13. Jess says:

    I haven’t read the book but I love all the excerpts. And I really like him talking about his awareness of how hard the presidency was on Michelle. I wonder if he talks more in the book about all the racist attacks they had to face. I love the caption on the People cover but that is a goofy picture of him.

  14. Teebee says:

    It’s coming more to light just how extraordinary the Obamas were during his presidency. I must admit I knew next to nothing about them as a couple, and was simply swept away by the progressiveness of the US to have an African American first family.

    But now. Holy moly. Michelle, more than Barack, deserves so much more credit and praise. Not only did she have to endure over 8 years of blatant racism, disrespect and bullying, she worried the whole time. And yet she chose country over person, she completely embraced the opportunity and became such a champion of so many important social issues. All while embodying the very traditional and staid role of First Lady. The epitome of grace under pressure.

    I guffaw at any defenders of Melania. They think her bullying is unprecedented. That she has done a stellar job as First Lady. She did nothing, she refused to help anyone, she complained the whole time. So what, she didn’t want the “job”. The starkness of the differences between these two women and how they managed challenges is INCREDIBLE!

  15. Dalloway says:

    Michelle is so candid in Becoming about his political career and her opinions on it, and it’s nice to hear him echo the same thing. They don’t gloss over things. I do wonder what it would have been like if he had decided to wait a bit longer to run after the girls were almost out of school, etc., but only they could choose. I love the Obamas so much.

  16. OriginalLala says:

    I bought my dad Obama’s book for xmas, I’m so excited to read it once he’s done with it!

  17. Savannah says:

    I love that they’re so open about the ups and downs in their relationship. As someone who has to work at my relationship, which is fundamentally very loving but also a case of opposites attract, we have to work at it. A lot of morons have told me “with the right person…” blah blah, “everything just clicks.” I don’t believe than any good, thoughtful relationship is just statistically perfect.

  18. Teatimeiscoming says:

    I love them. I miss their presence, their grace, their goofy dog, and their delightful and obvious affection for each other. We didnt deserve them.

  19. Lemons says:

    I think Obama did the same thing Hillary did when she lost…lay low. He’s had to lay low because his very presence is so divisive to some people. Now that Biden has won, he has done his part for the party and can now be more open in making moves. I’m loving it. This man can take a picture.

  20. RedWeatherTiger says:

    Whenever I am having a stressful day, I tell myself, “Channel your Inner Michelle Obama!”–as she always seems effortlessly gracious and calm. But she is a worrier–so much like me! They have always put across SUCH an amazing team front, that I guess I just assumed things were always easier for them than I now realize they really were. This is not to say that their LIFE was easy, as I know they have confronted such horrific racism and hate, and that all makes me sick. I just love them both and wish for their every happiness.

    I also need to get that book. And finally read Becoming, which I own but have not yet read.

  21. Implicit says:

    You think she was happier despite what her husband says. That she “got to keep her family together in one place”. Why exactly is that extraordinary for a woman of color? Are we looking at some implicit bias at work here? Something to ask yourself.

    • cassandra says:

      Orrrrrr it might be that during his years in the US Senate and all the campaigning they essentially had a long distance relationship during the work week?

      It’s not extraordinary that the Obama family was living all together once he was elected. However, per the Obamas themselves, it was a change in comparison to the past few years of their lives.

      Kaiser did infer that Michelle was happier…but wouldn’t most spouses be happier to have their partner at home most nights?

      • lucy2 says:

        I agree, in her book she discussed how often he was away when he was a state and then a US Senator, and how difficult that was for her with 2 young kids.
        I would imagine she was happier for that reason, but everything else about it was very hard on her and their family.

  22. Jumpingthesnark says:

    Wow, on top of all the other ways in which he is great, he has emotional intelligence, can express it, and seems deeply understanding and grateful for what it took for his wife to be the completely amazing First Lady that she was/is. I’m here for this! Also need to read Becoming….

  23. Izzy says:

    She has always been so beautiful, graceful and classy, and she frankly endured far more abuse than other First Ladies specifically because she is a WoC. It was and is appalling. We were so blessed to have her as our First Lady. I adore her.

  24. HeyJude says:

    She always seemed to manage any tension very gracefully. She was a constant glowing and light spirit at all their appearances. I miss her sparkle in the White House.

  25. Penelope says:

    One of the things that make it challenging for white people to understand why something is racist is that they look at it only in the context of what they said and not how it might be received or perceived in a historical context. I had the same reaction initially … “but he is an amazing speaker! So is Michelle! I’ve paid to go hear her speak twice!” Then I remember that I don’t have to fully understand why something is racist to just stop doing it. I appreciated the links to articles that put the word in its historical context.

    Fun fact: racism is so insidious because most of it is based in colonial ideas of dominance and subordination, and the precept that anyone who isn’t white and Christian is a lesser human being. These ideas are what perpetuate, maintain and normalize systemic racism and are so pervasive because well meaning and kind people think that because what they have said isn’t overtly racist (“I didn’t call him an N word, I said he was articulate”) it can’t possibly BE racist. If a POC tells you sh*t is racist, stop doing it. Don’t bring up how your one black friend says it isn’t.

    And for the love of god please stop using the term “race card.” It delegitimizes the other person’s genuine experiences of racism. White folks we gotta stop thinking of ourselves as the arbiters of what is racist and what isn’t.

  26. Dee Kay says:

    I am not a die-hard fan of the Obamas or anything but I really appreciate the quotes posted here from Pres. Obama’s interview. They sound like a couple that they can be very real and honest with each other, and frankly that’s enough to keep a marriage going through tough times. Plus, the “tough times” weren’t caused by the actions of one person within the marriage, they were caused by career stress, and if there’s any legit career stress in the world, it’s being POTUS and FLOTUS. So, I’m not surprised their relationship took a hit when they were in those roles and I’m not surprised they both felt relieved and came back closer together afterwards. I’m impressed by how much Pres. Obama notices about Michelle, keeping tabs on her moods and her overall well-being, noticing shifts in her emotional self. If more husbands simply tracked their wives’ emotional health like that, more marriages would last, that’s for sure.

  27. Monica says:

    Now I’m bracing myself for the divorce in a few years… I love them together but I get the feeling we don’t know the half of what they endured while in the White House.

  28. Miasys says:

    “Articulate” is a form of microaggression when used to describe BIPOC folks. It ssems so innocuous, that what you think is a compliment could be construed otherwise,that some white people don’t realize it until they get called out on it. If your first reaction is to attack the person trying to help you learn to do better…then you need to ask yourself why that is. You don’t get to define what makes another person feel marginalized.
    It’s embarrassing to be wrong but its embarrassing to be racist, too. Nobody is expecting perfection but own your shit, learn & try to do better going forward.

    • Nire says:

      I honestly did not know this is considered racist but can see how this is a micro agression. I am white, but grew up in a part of the US where people are generally working class who speak with heavy accents and a lot of F words. I live in Europe now and when I tell other Americans where I’m from many are surprised because I don’t “sound” or “act” like I am from there…

      So I learned something new today!

      Comparitively, when looking at the other présidents of my lifetime (since Regan), Obama stands out in terms of oration. He speaks with a tremendous amount of empathy for others and he seems to have so much more emotional intelligence than other politicians.

  29. Godwina says:

    If those two don’t make it, I just couldn’t…

  30. Leah says:

    Honestly, what President Obama said during his speeches for the Biden Campaign was frightening AND validating about the damage Trump was/is doing.

    Watching President Obama speak during interviews about his book, reminded me how much I missed him. I could listen to him all day long; he is a balm to my soul.

  31. Busyann says:

    Wow, I’m a few days late, but these comments went left. I’m black and people have often told me that I am articulate and well spoken and I have taken it as a compliment. That’s never been said to me as anything but a compliment. Where’s the harm in just complimenting someone? As I always say, I’m sympathetic to the racism out there directed to blacks and other POCs, but gee, lowering the temperature a bit and not seeing RACISM everywhere, especially when there’s none present, isn’t a bad thing.

    • osito says:

      Hey Busy, I left my comment above, but I’ll engage with you down here because the thread will probably die tomorrow, and this is good conversation to have. I’m BIPoC, too, and I’ve always understood that “well spoken” and “articulate” when directed at me was not a compliment in that the subtext was always that I *unexpectedly* didn’t sound “black” or “ghetto” or “ignorant.” Doesn’t mean that when I was a young person, I didn’t take that sooty gold star and run with it — I definitely did — but it took me becoming a person who worked with the kind of youth I felt superior to when I was a youth to see how wrong I was. That’s my journey. I get that yours is different.

      Maybe you’ve been praised for your eloquence in all kinds of contexts that validate your experience. Maybe you were allowed to be articulate while code switching or simply using AAVE — I wasn’t allowed that, and was chastised for code switching both inside and outside the home. Maybe you weren’t taught, as I was, that rap and hip hop was music for uneducated, stupid people. It wasn’t poetry like folk or rock, it wasn’t a musical form as complicated and rhythmic as classical or jazz. That it was too sexual and violent and animalistic — even though the same has been said for every iteration of the music that comes from our communities before it gets co-opted into the mainstream.

      There are plenty of other reasons why I stopped taking “you’re so well spoken” as a compliment at face value. Sure, it’s complimentary. But it also sets me apart from a community that is deemed too complicated and scary to be of value. And that’s a point that was made clear to me over and over again; I just grew up with so much internalized racism that I couldn’t see why it was bad while looking directly at it.

      But like I said, your experience is totally different from mine. Maybe your experience was just better. But because of my experience I notice unintentional microaggressions, and they’re still painful to me.