Michelle Obama is all over the place this week, much as she’s been all over the place this year. While her husband’s poll numbers take a tumble, Michelle’s approval ratings have been steadily in the 50 to 70% range most of the year – America loves their new first lady. We love to talk about her clothes, her White House garden, her speeches, and her hair. So it’s not really surprising that Barbara Walters chose the First Lady as her “Most Fascinating Person of 2009”. Frankly, I’m only surprised that Barbara chose so wisely. She could have picked the Gosselins, for God’s sake. Here’s more:
Michelle Obama is Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2009.
Almost a year since the Obama family moved to Washington, D.C., the first lady reflected on the transition to the White House.
“It has been a whirlwind. But it’s been amazing,” she told Walters. “I mean, if you think about this year, I had to get these two beautiful girls settled into a new city, into a new home, into a new school. We got a dog. I visited eight countries with my husband. I planted a garden. I’ve started a mentoring program. It has been everything. And now, here we are at our first Christmas in the White House.”
During her tenure as first lady, Obama has promoted healthy living and taken steps to combat childhood obesity — creating a vegetable garden on the White House lawn and holding health fairs with exercise stations for kids.
“I think I’ve begun to lay the foundation to a conversation about the health of our kids — particularly when we’re looking at statistics that say that one in three kids in this country are obese, and those numbers increase if you’re African-American or Hispanic,” she said. “So we’re going to spend a lot more time on that issue in the years to come.”
The first African-American first lady is also one of the fittest. Wearing a sleeveless dress in her official White House portrait, Obama’s toned arms have become part of her signature style — and the envy of many. Obama, who often joins her husband in the White House gym, told Walters that her workout regimen began after the birth of their first daughter, Malia.
“My personal routine hasn’t changed much in the past 11 years,” she said. “I really started right after I had Malia, our oldest, and some of that was, you know, in all honesty it was a little sort of revenge because I’m married to a man who has worked out all of his life. And regardless of how busy he is, he finds the time to work out. And there was a point at which I got a little resentful of that.”
“[Malia] was still waking up for that four o’clock feeding and I’d get up because I’d be the first one to hear her, and he’d be asleep,” she added. “And I thought, ‘I’m up, I might as well go to the gym. And if I get to the gym, then he’ll have to wake up and do that feeding.’ I get a workout in and everyone will be happy. So you know, if there’s anything that I can attribute these arms to, it’s probably just determination.”
The Obamas who have been married for 17 years have had their share of ups and downs. Michelle Obama told Walters that despite her confidence in her husband’s natural ability, at a certain point, the grueling demands of politics bothered her.
“I had always had this dilemma,” she said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in my husband as a phenomenal leader. I mean, that was always the pull — because I always thought, ‘Well, if I wanted somebody as my state senator, or as my U.S. senator, or as my president, I would want Barack Obama.’ And the only reason he wouldn’t do it is if I said no.”
When asked by Walters if the president would have stopped pursuing politics if she really put her foot down, the first lady said, “He would have.”
[From ABC News]
In addition to the “Most Fascinating” honor (which isn’t that big of a deal, honestly), the First Lady and the President are participating in a holiday special with Oprah, “Christmas at the White House: An Oprah Primetime Special”. It airs on December 13 at 10 p.m. on ABC. The “Most Fascinating” thing is on ABC too, so it looks like ABC got custody of the Obamas for the holidays, and NBC will probably take them back in the new year.
In one other piece of Michelle Obama-related news, the designer Douglas Hannat (who?) tried to pull an Oscar de la Renta and publicly disrespected Michelle and her clothes. Sort of. The original published comment came via Page Six, where they reported Hannat’s comment as “Everyone compares her to Jackie O–she is not the next Jackie O.” Hannat then got his publicist to e-mail the Huffington Post with this comment from Hannat: “I did say ‘Michelle Obama is not another Jackie Kennedy and I do not consider to be a style icon.’ But in addition, I also said ‘She has so much more to her and has mass appeal. I admire her as a role model and think she will achieve great things in her position as First Lady.’ And by the way, I voted for Obama.” Crisis averted!
Photos courtesy of Entertainment Tonight & ABC, photographs by Pete Souza @ the White House.