Charlotte Hays

While Michelle Obama was communing with the Terracotta Army from the Tang Dynasty on her most recent taxpayer-funded spring break in China, Reid Cherlin, a former White House press aide, was blowing the whistle in the New Republic on what an overbearing control freak Mrs. Obama is.

He did so in an article headlined “The Worst Wing: How the East Wing Shrank Michelle Obama,” which, as the title implies, doesn't really blame Mrs. Obama for turning the First Lady's offices in the East Wing into a hell hole. Indeed, Mrs. Obama—surprise! surprise!—is a victim of the spirit-squelching job of being first lady.

While the article isn’t especially revealing about Mrs. Obama—she only really likes to hang with Valerie Jarrett, last seen sporting a super-sized "Ban Bossy" button (just kidding) it speaks volumes about the kind of people who go to work for the first family.

What is most apparent from Cherlin’s article is that the Obama courtiers are very different from you and me. They live in their own special world. Only people who live in such an insular environment could believe, for example, that Pajama Boy—who, come to think of it, looks a little like he could be Mr. Cherlin’s cousin—of the ObamaCare ad would be a convincing advocate for enlisting young people to follow his lead into adulthood by signing up for government-approved insurance.

One also notices that Mrs. Obama's staff truly are courtiers, never looking beyond the Obama façade. They also misunderstand the role of the First Lady—at least as it was understood up until Hillary Clinton—believing that they should be directly involved in policy from the East Wing. Before Mrs. Clinton, whose portfolio included healthcare, the first lady was separate from the policy arena.

Now it is a hybrid job, with vestiges of the past, when the first lady adopted a ladylike cause. Nancy Reagan’s project was getting people to say “no” to drugs, for example. I remember how amusing it was when Second Lady Marilyn Quayle’s adopted as her cause relief from natural disasters. Big mistake. Natural disasters don't happen on schedule, so Mrs. Quayle had to get a new cause. Mrs. Obama’s causes on the surface are “first lady” causes—childhood obesity, the need for exercise—but with a twist: there is always the specter of government regulation to enforce her vision. So it is to be expected that she would attract staff members who are more ideologically-driven than did previous first ladies (except for Mrs. Clinton).


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.