How Michelle Obama Passed for White

The J. Crew twin sets spoke in code to white women to help Barack get elected. But the mom-first spin is dangerous and insulting.

Michelle Obama is the perfect first lady to help working moms of all ethnicities come to peace with our choices—or lack of choices. It’s disappointing when Michelle Obama—or her public-relations machine—parade “mom in chief” values as the Holy Grail for mothers everywhere. Because the real Holy Grail is work/life balance that allows for time with children and the rewards of satisfying work.

The most depressing Michelle Obama sound bite surfaced, ironically, after Barack won the election. Close friends of the Obamas told the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Michelle Obama is most interested in easing the transition for her young daughters, not in ‘having a seat at the table and being a co-president’…Her first priority as she comes to Washington and moves into the White House are those two darling girls, making sure that they’re OK, getting them in school, getting them comfortable.”

The Obamas won the election already! I want Michelle Obama to be co-president. Her kids are going to be fine—they’ve got half of America, grandma and every single private-school admissions officer in D.C. looking out for them. But all moms in America need a proud, thoughtful, unapologetic woman like Michelle Obama, particularly a woman who has faced the torment and exhilaration of working motherhood, advising the president on national and international policies.

I want Michelle Obama to have a seat at that table—you know, that big one in the Oval Office. Especially if she is wearing one of those new Land’s End hot-pink ski vests.

Leslie Morgan Steiner is the editor of the best-selling anthology Mommy Wars, and the author of the upcoming memoir Crazy Love. She writes the weekly column, “Two Cents on Working Motherhood,” for Mommy Track’d: The Working Mother’s Guide to Managed Chaos.