Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: The fiery, opinionated Michelle Obama of the primary season has been replaced with a new, kinder, gentler version and it's working wonders. But there's something a little sad in the muzzling of Michelle.
Just a few months ago, Michelle was written off as a liability, with Democrats wringing their hands and Republicans chomping at the bit. Remember her much derided comment, "for the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of my country" and her "terrorist fist jab" on national television?
The days of an off-the-reservation Michelle are gone. Poised to be the first black First Lady, Michelle has come a long way in convincing voters, especially women voters, that she's one of them, according to a story in the New York Times. She spends most of her time off the campaign trail and at home with her daughters. When she does hit the campaign trail, she mainly speaks to women and military families. The Obama campaign dispatches her to shows like "The View" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" where she talks about being a mom, a wife and where she shops.
Michelle's success has a downside. For a country that nearly nominated a woman for president, Americans are still uncomfortable with a tough, professional First Lady. Michelle is a Harvard-educated lawyer who held down a $212,000 a year job before this campaign began. Now the Obama camp insists she won't have an office in the West Wing and will spend most of her time raising the girls. It's wonderful that she's focusing on her daughters, but it's sad that the First Lady Americans feel most comfortable with is the one with the fewest opinions. Granted, Americans aren't voting for Michelle and who can forget the wrath Hillary Clinton evoked when she took on healthcare after Bill Clinton was elected? But it says a lot that Americans chafed at the idea of a working mom with strong opinions and ideas that extend beyond the domestic sphere. America might finally be ready for a black president, but it's still not ready for a fiery First Lady.