'Mom-in-Chief' Readies Her Bully Pulpit

Will balance Hillary-style agenda, Laura-style domestic image
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2009 9:56 AM CST
President-elect Barack Obama and Michelle wave as they arrive at the "We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
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(Newser) – Being first lady has always been a balancing act: trailblazer Hillary Clinton pushed harder on policy issues than the public wanted; mild Laura Bush hardly pushed at all. Michelle Obama is seeking an agenda related to her experiences. A friend tells the New York Times: “She understands the needs of low-income communities. She understands the needs of women. She has balanced raising a family with a career.”

The Harvard-educated lawyer and former hospital executive recalibrated her image during the campaign after some missteps, emphasizing her roles as mother and wife. She now describes her first job as “mom-in-chief,” though she may delegate traditional duties such as selecting china or tasting food. An Eleanor Roosevelt scholar spells out the challenge for Politico: “She has to look caring, but she can’t flaunt the fact that she has power. It has be somewhere in the middle.”