Her success in the White House has had as much to do with her comfort with herself as with what might be her central precept: never believe that there is a room you have no right to walk into. It’s a message that she has delivered in speeches at historically black colleges and in her mentorship of girls. It has also come across in her work, with Jill Biden, to support military families. As the stages got bigger, Obama’s oratory became more dominant and yet, at the same time, more intimate. In one of her enduring speeches, given at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, she revisited her fears that the Presidency would change her husband. What she had realized, she said, was that power doesn’t change who you are—“it reveals who you are.”
In her case, it revealed, by way of “Carpool Karaoke,” what it’s like to drive around with a First Lady singing “Get Ur Freak On.” Her cool seems effortless, though her control of it is precise. Her iconoclasm gains strength from its fusion with irreproachability. She has been cheerfully scrupulous about White House traditions and rituals, including such niceties as designing what will be known as the Obama China.
MICHELLE OBAMA AND US
The tenure of a First Lady who leaves the White House as one of the most popular political figures in recent memory.
By Amy Davidson