New Book on the Obamas – Friction in the White House!

Dear Colleagues,

It seems that most wives of presidents come under a certain scrutiny during their husbands’ tenure in office:  Rosalynn Carter (steel magnolia), Nancy Reagan (astrology), Hillary Clinton (who wears the pants in the family, etc.) The Huffington Post reviews a new book, The Obamas, by Jodi Kantor (New York Times).  Among other things, the book appears to paint a picture of a contentious relationship between Michelle Obama and White House staffers especially Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Here is a sample:

“Michelle and Rahm Emanuel had almost no bond; their relationship was distant and awkward from the beginning. She had been skeptical of him when he was selected, and now he returned the favor; he was uneasy about first ladies in general, several aides close to him said, based on clashes with Hillary Clinton in the 1990s that became so severe that she had tried to fire him from her husband’s administration,” writes Kantor. ‘Now Emanuel was chief of staff, a position that almost never included an easy relationship with the first lady. They were the president’s two spouses, in a sense, one public and official and one private and informal.’

The tug of war between Michelle Obama and Rahm Emanuel for the president’s spiritual or political soul contributed to a White House that was far more disorganized and friction-filled than the public perception holds. Kantor reports that then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was often deployed to push back against the first lady, informing her that she couldn’t take a private vacation on a state visit, spend large amounts on White House redecoration, or buy expensive clothes.”

It might be interesting reading for the New Year!


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