This is a cool article in Time about Michelle, how she grew up, and her and Barack's relationship. As it turns out (although it's not that surprising) Barack had a huge role to play in getting Michelle in public service. The article starts with the story of how at the end of the summer in 1989, Barack turned down a job at a prestigious law firm, but also notified a senior partner that he was taking Michelle with him:
Minow, a former Federal Communication Commission chairman, recalls that Obama told him to take a seat: "You may not want to help me after you hear the rest of what I've got to say. I'm taking Michelle with me."
"You no good, worthless —" Minnow said, jumping up angrily. "Hold it," Obama said, raising a hand. "We're going to get married."
Most women might not appreciate their boyfriend effectively giving notice on their behalf. Michelle, though, didn't seem to mind. Not only were they engaged a year later but sure enough Michelle surprised her family and friends and left the law to go into public service. It was a move that would prove fateful for both her and her husband: the contacts she made were invaluable, some say essential, to his state senate and U.S. Senate races.
Those of us who know about the engagement story, know that Barack had been telling Michelle that all they needed was love, and that marriage was optional, but she was the one who said marriage was mandatory. As it turns out, he'd been preparing to propose long before she had any idea.
What I didn't know that Michelle worked for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and was largely responsible for many connections that Barack made at that time. That's something you don't really hear about much.
But Barack also helped her to get back in touch with her Southside Chicago roots:
But if Michelle helped give Obama an invaluable new base in Chicago politics, he helped her get back in touch with her home base. . . Dates often took them to church basements and protests. "He could've gone to Wall Street; those offers were available to him. But instead Barack bussed these young mothers down to City Hall to help them find their voice and advocate for change," Michelle told an audience in Orangeburg, South Carolina earlier this year.
Indeed, Michelle has quite a bit of organizing experience herself that doesn't get much attention:
"Everyone had said at the time that the best young organizer in Chicago was Barack," says Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies. The group invited Obama to join their board. But when they started to look for someone to head up the Chicago office, Obama recommended his fiancee and resigned when the non-profit began to court her in earnest. "At a time when the average age of our staff was 23, she was like drafting Brett Favre for the Packers," Schmitz says. "Michelle was 29 when we hired her. She had a law degree from Harvard, had worked for the mayor, for a corporate law firm. Comparatively, I'd worked a telemarketing group. Frankly we were surprised that she wanted to do it."
During her nearly four years with the group, Michelle set fundraising marks that remain records for the organization. In the process, she developed an unparalleled network of young activists. "She was a connector. They were a power couple. They helped each other along the way," says Craig Huffman, a graduate student from the Southside whom Michelle took under her wing and recommended for the charity's board. Huffman was drawn into Obama's orbit and, like dozens of Michelle's other proteges, volunteered for Barack Obama's campaigns. "Each ally was placed with a not-for-profit, about 20-30 a year, when you think of the number of people who got to know who Michelle was, and by extension Barack, that's a whole generation from all over Chicago," Huffman says.
Apparently, she's sort of always been "the closer"
And as if I needed more, this article once again affirmed my belief that Michelle Obama is awesome!
Michelle may have envisioned giving her children the idyllic childhood that she'd had, but she had to know that Obama was far from a city pump operator with regular hours, nor did she show any real inclination to be a stay-at-home mom. But it is her connection to traditional middle class values that drives her to still make an effort to put her children first and seemingly removes any hint of a desire to run for public office herself, though many have suggested it over the years. Her hint of nuclear-family nostalgia is also what helps make this very strong woman a much less threatening figure to the audiences who have throughout the campaign warmed to her homespun, sensitive speaking style. That down-to-earth appeal should be on full display Monday night, when she appears in her biggest venue yet. But that is only part of the real Michelle Obama. The country wouldn't get a two-for-one Bill and Hillary presidency if she were to become First Lady, but it would definitely get a lot more than many people realize.
I can't wait to hear her speech tonight!
Here are some pics of her walk-through:
Oh, and there's also a cute story about Sasha and the gavel:
After emerging from the backstage area 15 minutes behind schedule, Michelle posed at the podium, wordlessly, with one hand on Sasha's shoulder, for the benefit of various convention staff who worked on lighting and camera placement. Then, Michelle took the gavel at the podium and raised it halfway into the air, posed again for a moment, and then set the gavel gently back down.
At which point Sasha stood up on her tippy-toes and grabbed the gavel herself. After raising it as high in the air as her arms would allow, Sasha brought the gavel down hard, and let out an accompanying squeal of delight.
For having had the honor of witnessing some spontaneous behavior, the deeply bored press corps let out a collective, grateful laugh.
As always, tips, recs, and comments are welcome!
UPDATE Here's a pic from the comments some of you may enjoy :o) I'm sure Ill be doing a diary about Joe and Jill someday ;o)