While Barack Obama has lost a significant number of his supporters at the end of his presidency, his wife remains popular among Americans. There is a rumor in the US that with such a vote of confidence Michelle Obama can run for presidency, or at least for the Senate. When the First Lady herself was trying to avoid answering the question, carrying on this intrigue, the head of State said that his wife had no such ambitions. "There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and the fact that Michelle will not participate in the presidential race," — said the head of the White House.
According to the Gallup poll, 66% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Michelle Obama, that's 14% more than that of her husband. Herewith Obama's approval ratings were gradually declining throughout two presidential terms, meanwhile Michel's popularity remained stable and much higher than of the US President. Comparing the Obamas popularity just before 2012 presidential election, David Axelrod, president's chief strategist made a joke: "We are lucky not to have Michelle running against us.” Barack Obama was jesting about his wife's popularity himself. "I know that you love Michelle more than me. This is normal. I assure you, you are not alone," he told TV host David Letterman in spring of 2015.
Although Obama claimed that Michelle had no presidential ambitions, US experts believe that the First Lady would have made a good politician. Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, who had taught both Barack and Michelle Obama, complimented the First Lady at a National Association of Black Journalists dinner in Boston, saying that "Barack Obama is the second (after Michelle) good politician occupying the White House now. "
Jack of all trades
Michelle's popularity is explained by her social impact. She is in charge of several of the presidential administration's programs: “Ending Veterans Homelessness”; promoting access to a higher education for US citizens, girls in the third world, and developing countries; fighting childhood obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Being a frequent guest on television, Michelle Obama managed to win the hearts of the housewives nationwide. They like her for being a contemporary American woman, who is not being afraid to be funny. For example in December of last year, Michelle Obama rapped with Jay Pharoah in video "Go To College", promoting the benefits of higher education. In this video, Michelle and Pharoah were rapping about great opportunities of higher education, mocking those clubbing schools hours away.
The First Lady has often demonstrated her acting talents. So, a month before the video release, she has danced with the players of Broadway shows in the White House. A year before, Michelle played herself in "Nashville" and "Parks and Recreation" TV shows. In 2013, together with Jimmy Fallon, who was dressed in drag Michelle Obama performed "Mummy dance" in Fallon's popular late night show. By the way, this video recorded as part of a “Let's Move!” healthy lifestyle project, became a YouTube hit, getting more than 20 million views. A video where Michelle is dancing with a turnip, is equally popular.
To promote sports and healthy lifestyle, the First Lady competed against Ellen DeGeneres on her NBC comedy talk show, doing push-ups 25 times live. In 2015 she started a #GimmeFive campaign, where participants shared five elements of their healthy lifestyle on social networks, while Michelle showed one of her personal fitness routines at the White House. Internet users commented that 'the first spouse' was ahead of her husband again — if the video with President Obama doing simple exercises, caused mostly laughter, Michelle's approach to a work-out routine was flawless.
First lady Michelle Obama demonstrates exercises to inspire fitness. https://t.co/fV16YTDdmz— Tariq Alexander (@TariqTSW) January 28, 2016
People in the US admire the fact that the First Lady is not afraid to push the boundaries of her role and do different things. In 2013 Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance at the Academy Awards via video live from the White House announcing the winner of the best picture. Nothing like this has been done before Michelle. The First Lady's appearance at the Oscar's was a true surprise. "Guests and viewers were amazed," the Washington Post reported. Director and actor Ben Affleck, who had received the main prize for his film “Argo”, admitted later on: "I thought that I was hallucinating."
Several years ago, Michelle was named by the media the "Hugger-in-chief". Journalists at the annual reception at the White House calculated that she hugged more than 20 people during the evening. At the same time, according to Patti Wood, the author of "Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma" — Michelle's hugs are different from the ones of the other First Ladies not only with the quantity but also the sincerity of her hugs: "She does it all the time. No doubt, it's not a formal ritual for her, it's guided by her natural impulse."
However, Michelle's love for hugging turned into a controversy in 2009 when she partially embraced Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. US First Lady caused an uproar by giving the queen a hug, which is strictly forbidden by the protocol. Yet when US First Lady breaks diplomatic etiquette, it only seems to benefit her popularity in America. In January 2015, Michelle Obama appeared wearing pants and no head scarf at the Saudi King Abdullah's funeral, she was sharply criticized by the kingdom and it's citizens. There was even a hashtag #Michelle_Obama_Immodest. In response, Americans began their own campaign: "Do not teach our First Lady what to wear" and "She must be thanked for showing the Saudis that they have to respect women's rights."
If Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush simply gave orders to the White House kitchen to use organic products, Michelle began to grow them herself. "She is not the First Lady who just talks about the need for healthy eating and going in for sports, she lives like that herself" USA Today writes about the 'first spouse'. Michelle has grown her own garden at the White House, which has attracted huge media attention. Media has kept track of the President's garden and Michelle has done best at growing broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and other greens. Over time, a vegetable garden was not enough, and the beehives appeared by the White House. The First Lady's horticultural experience was summarized in her book «American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America».
In one of the interviews Michelle Obama confessed that as a child she loved fast food, remembering her father taking them to to McDonald's. However, as the First Lady, Michelle took on the battle against child obesity, providing children with healthy food. Since 2010, she initiated an introduction of mandatory diet in schools, which was to include vegetables, fruits, and high protein foods. However, not everyone enjoyed this innovation. School children complained that the food was tasteless. Some schools' administration claimed that preparation of breakfasts and lunches according to new standards was too expensive, and they were forced to use the educational program's budget. This caused closing up of many programs.
For the time being, neither Barack nor Michelle Obama are announcing any major plans for their future after the end of the presidential term in January 2017. However, there is no doubt that Michelle will continue to oversee her current projects and will embark on new ones, perhaps more ambitious. "Not only is she going to be a very busy ex-First Lady, but unlike me, she looks young'' said the US President.