NYT’s Julie Davis Adores ‘Potent Weapon’ Michelle Obama, Vanquisher Of Racist Republicans

Posted on Sun 11/06/2016 by


claywaterspicture-5-1426558377By Clay Waters ~

In a story set to appear in Sunday’s New York Times, White House reporter and Michelle Obama acolyte Julie Hirschfeld Davis celebrated the first lady in a long profile, both as a campaigner for Hillary Clinton and for just being her awesome self in “The Closer: Michelle Obama — Dismissed early on by critics, the first lady has evolved into a powerful presence on the campaign trail.”

First Davis featured the first lady as the emotional vanquisher of sexist Trump and racist Republicans. By the end she was suggesting that the adored…potent weapon” Michelle Obama could run for office herself, and that “Republicans, who thought nothing of attacking Mrs. Obama in 2008, now shy away from doing so, a testament to her popularity and appeal.”

michelle-obama16The emails to Michelle Obama began flooding in minutes after she spoke out at an October rally in New Hampshire, her voice shaking, about Donald J. Trump’s treatment of women. Sexual assault victims recounted their trauma, fathers poured out anxieties about unhealthy influences on their sons, and a distraught parent agonized over how to explain rape to a 10-year-old.

The next morning in the East Wing, a first lady who had spent years in the White House staying away from politics sorted through a thick sheaf of printed messages — a selection of the 600 she had already received, an amount that would triple by the end of the day — and realized there was an unlikely finale for her.

Mrs. Obama had become the breakout voice of Campaign 2016.

Dismissed early on by critics as an angry black woman unsuited for the tradition-bound role of first lady, she has emerged this fall as Hillary Clinton’s most popular surrogate, with soaring approval ratings that cut across party lines. Reluctant at first to engage in partisan politics, and conflicted when her husband decided to seek the presidency, Mrs. Obama has, almost in spite of herself, evolved into a powerful presence on the campaign trail.


Mrs. Obama, 52, is no stranger to speaking her mind. A Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer who was forced to give up her career as a hospital executive with a $250,000-plus salary when Mr. Obama won the presidency, she nevertheless set about conforming to the traditional job of first lady. As the first black woman in the role, she was well aware from the start that there would be little margin for error.

She literally never puts a foot wrong:

She declared herself the “mom in chief.” She took on unassailable causes like healthy eating, exercise and military families. Despite the couture she wore to state dinners and the glamorous White House parties she threw with guests like Beyoncé, Mrs. Obama cultivated an unpretentious image by dispensing hugs rather than handshakes and kicking off her shoes to dance with local children on official trips abroad.

There’s only a tentative fearful peak inside what it’s like to actually be near the first lady when the cameras are off:

Inside the White House, the image is different: Mrs. Obama has come to be adored but feared in the East Wing as a tough and exacting boss who has little patience for mistakes, improvisation and wasted time. But her discipline and intensity have paid off in her success as first lady, staff members say.

As Mrs. Obama was putting the finishing touches on the speech, an 11-year-old tape surfaced in which Mr. Trump boasted of grabbing women by their genitals without consent.

The result was a takedown of Mr. Trump that Mrs. Obama delivered in October in New Hampshire, where her voice trembled with emotion as she confided that the misogynistic tenor of the presidential race had “shaken me to my core.”


Mr. Obama’s political advisers have long regarded his wife as a potent weapon. Their nickname for her in his 2008 campaign was “the closer.”


Still, Mrs. Obama knows all too well the darker side of putting herself out in the political arena.

In 2008, she was criticized as angry and unpatriotic after a comment at a rally in Wisconsin about the unexpected success of her husband’s campaign. “Let me tell you something,” she said, in remarks that haunted her throughout the campaign. “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

Conservatives who had been pushing racially tinged criticism of Mr. Obama, suggesting that he had been born in Kenya and portraying him as a radical liberal, turned their fire on his wife. A worried Mrs. Obama, who was furious about the racist rumors of her husband, told aides that she might be hurting her husband’s chances, and wondered whether she had been wrong to swallow her misgivings and plunge into the campaign.

After the campaign hired supposed political crisis expert Stephanie Cutter, things improved dramatically.

The change was soon apparent. Mrs. Obama appeared on “The View” and talked about serving her daughters bacon for breakfast and hating to wear pantyhose. She gave an interview to Ladies’ Home Journal about her views on marriage and motherhood. She delivered a speech at the Democratic convention in Denver, where she talked of her working-class roots and called her husband “a great American story,” and — in a subtle attempt to answer her critics — spoke repeatedly of her pride in and love for America.

Her poll numbers shot up more than 10 points, above 50 percent, and by Inauguration Day, they were at 68 percent, according to Gallup’s daily tracking. They have not dipped below 60 percent since.

Davis indulged in wishful thinking: Another President Obama?

But as voters greet Mrs. Obama rapturously at campaign events this fall and eagerly chant her slogan, “When they go low, we go high,” speculation has started that she may one day seek office herself. Those close to her regard the prospect as absurd.


One other thing is certain: Republicans, who thought nothing of attacking Mrs. Obama in 2008, now shy away from doing so, a testament to her popularity and appeal.

Clay Waters was the director of Times Watch a former project of the Media Research Center .

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