It's hard out there for a first lady of the United States. Take it from travel-weary Michelle Obama. On Tuesday night, she boarded a luxury 757 for Copenhagen. Think of the stairs she had to climb. Oh, the agony of the feet!
Upon arrival, Mrs. O, her "chit-chat buddy," Chicago-based talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, and Chicago powerbroker/interest-conflicted real estate mogul/senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett immediately embarked on a grueling, grip-and-grin campaign to secure the Olympics for their hometown. Our smile muscles ache in sympathy.
You will be comforted to know that the gracious FLOTUS feels your pain for her pain. "As much of a sacrifice as people say this is for me or Oprah or the president to come for these few days," the first lady told a group of fellow Chicago 2016 boosters, "so many of you in this room have been working for years to bring this bid home." Translation: Thank me, thank you, for all we do.
Never has self-congratulatory gratitude been raised to such an art form, but there was no time for loyal subjects to dwell. The selflessly indefatigable Michelle Obama had to rush off for an 800-meter wine-and-cheese dash with International Olympic Committee members, followed by a rigorous aerobic Heads of State luncheon hosted by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and another high-heeled trek to the IOC Opening Ceremony at the Copenhagen Opera House.
Of course, it's not entirely clear which "people" out there are saying that the Obamas' jaunt to Denmark is a "sacrifice."
Certainly not the families of the 43 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have died in Afghanistan since Gen. Stanley McChrystal called for more reinforcements.
Certainly not the families of the nearly 40 children and teens in Chicago who lost their lives on the out-of-control streets of the Windy City so far this year.
The first lady's slip of self-absorption reminds me of a useful passage in Washington Post writer Liza Mundy's biography of Mrs. Obama. After graduating from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, the bitterly oppressed Michelle Obama headed back to her native Chicago to join the high-powered law firm of Sidley Austin -- the ninth largest in the world. There, Mundy's book reported, the future first lady griped about having to do the duties of a second-year associate while she was a second-year associate -- demonstrating the trademark attitude of entitlement and inflated ego that led the law partner who recruited her to later describe her as "perennially dissatisfied."
Doing her first job was a burden then. Enjoying the perks of her current job is a "sacrifice" now.
Michelle Obama has a gift for selling special-interest business-as-usual as public-interest charity. Thus, the insatiable appetite of Chicago's polite elite for a massive Olympics windfall to crony developers is redefined as a do-good campaign for the children. Said Mrs. Obama:
"We need all of our children to be exposed to the Olympic ideals that athletes from around the world represent, particularly this time in our nation's history, where athletics is becoming more of a fleeting opportunity. … When we're seeing rates of childhood obesity increase, it is so important for us to raise up the platform of fitness and competition and fair play; to teach kids to cheer on the victors and empathize with those in defeat, but most importantly, to recognize that all the hard work that is required to do something special."
"Hard work," you know, like jetting off with your gal pals to schmooze other world leaders, famous athletes and celebrities for a few days on the taxpayers' dime.
In the Olympics of the aggrieved, Mrs. Obama gets a gold medal.