Michelle Obama’s guest host slot on ABC’s morning gab-fest was either brilliant or calculated, depending on your point of, um, view. The Daily News places the wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on the front page for her fashion prowess. Obama donned a $148 black-and-white dress from White House/Black Market, a store dedicated to (you guessed it) black and white clothing.
The Daily News dubs the appearance a success, noting that she “fist-bumped” her co-hosts a la her moment with her husband when he clinched the nomination. She chatted about her family’s love of bacon and her hatred of wearing pantyhose (they’re “painful” and “always rip”). Obama even proved she was human when she flubbed and accidentally referred to her husband as “sweet, pathetic,” when she meant empathetic. News columnist David Hinckley described Obama as a “21st century Welcome Wagon hostess” and her appearance as “an effective counter to insinuations she’s angry and aggressive.”
The Post, on the other hand, describes the appearance as “lame.” Andrea Peyser writes, “It was as painful as a root canal to watch Michelle try so hard to show her feminine side. She mainly succeeded in looking bored and superior.” This “bored and superior” claim is juxtaposed with a picture of Obama giving the “fist bump” to Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Obama is smiling and giddy. The paper also runs down a list of “Highlights and lowlights” that include her “Most cringe-worthy moment” (a tie between the pantyhose comment and when she brushed some lint off Matthew Broderick’s shoulder) and “Proof positive the Obamas are not Muslim” (in which Obama declares that the Obama family are “bacon people!” at breakfast).
Of course, this is merely one hour of television in the midst of a long campaign, but it shows that there is an attempt to “rehab” Michelle Obama’s image so that she does not come off as a 1992-era Hillary “I don’t bake cookies” Clinton. The dress is a perfect example. It shows that despite her high-paying job as a Harvard-educated attorney, she is still “of the people.” A $148 dress is out of reach of many in America, but it’s a much closer representation of realistic fashion than the usual outfits she wears. It’s surprising that the Post didn’t take Obama to task for that, for some form of “fashion pandering.” It would have been more legitimate that complaining about Obama “offer[ing] the back of her hand to Elisabeth Hasselbeck.”