Give me Michelle over Hillary any day

It was an intensely political evening. First, the premiere of the amazing new film Recount, starring Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary, turned the dry legal arguments about “hanging chads” in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election into fascinating drama. Then screens hung down at New York’s Four Seasons restaurant so we could watch the results come in from the polls in West Virginia.

Few people were talking about anything else. We were all invited to vote ourselves – for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain. Not surprisingly – this is New York – Obama won the restaurant poll.

But while everyone knows he is more than likely to be the Democratic nominee, I was surprised to hear negative talk about him. And it was especially his wife, Michelle, whom I have always found to be deeply impressive, who came in for a bashing. One senior TV executive told me how when they’d filmed a puff piece recently on the Obamas, no one had commented on how every campaign staffer had on their desk a note along the lines of “Michelle is always right”.

I volunteered that it seems that Clinton, with her outrageous remarks about race and her unwillingness to give up despite her inability to win, seems to be far more the deranged, power-hungry woman than ice-cool Michelle.

No, no, they said. The truly angry, power-hungry woman here was Michelle Obama. Had I read her Princeton dissertation? It was all about race.

I have now read it: it is indeed about race and attitudes to race. But why shouldn’t it be? It is a subject she has talked about openly.

And having re-read profiles of Michelle Obama, frankly it seems to me that she is being attacked for being … well, just like me and most other professional career women.

She once complained that her husband didn’t put the butter away – and a columnist wrote that this was “emasculating”. Please. She has also been on his case for smoking, since one of their daughters has asthma (he has never smoked in front of her or their kids). Well, the same thing happened in my family. I don’t consider myself a harridan.

She introduces herself as a wife, mother and a “professional”. Ooh – dangerous! What’s worse: a “professional” – or a woman who says she’ll stand by her unfaithful man? Personally I’d choose the smoker husband and a profession for myself – but then I’m not in the running to be First Lady. And having watched the nail-biting Recount, all I can say is – thank goodness.V

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