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White House Cheat Sheet: Michelle Obama Steps Out

First Lady Michelle Obama raises her profile. Pablo Martinez Monsivais -- AP

Michelle Obama will travel to Fort Bragg (N.C.) military base to meet with military families and sit for her first network television interview with ABC's Robin Roberts today, two signs of an increased public presence for the first lady as her husband crests the 50-day mark in office.

These events come on the heels of her appearance at the State Department on Wednesday to celebrate the "Women of Courage" awards. At that event, Michelle Obama made clear the central role she believes women play in a prospering society. "The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued," she said. "Where relationships among women and between women and men are based on mutual respect."

To date, Obama has largely limited herself to touring various agencies and departments around Washington, thanking the employees for their service and pledging a new day in the nation's capitol.

But, with this series of events, she appears ready to step out as a more forceful advocate for her husband and his policies.

"Her ability to get out of Washington and to go on TV and connect directly with voters is an important asset while the President is often tied down with the messy business of governing," explained one senior level Democratic party strategist.

Polling suggests a more active role for Michelle Obama will be greeted warmly by the public. In a January Washington Post/ABC News survey, 72 percent of those polled said they had a favorable impression toward the First Lady while just 17 percent felt unfavorably toward her.

While Michelle Obama has downplayed her role in her husband's administration, it's not hard to see the extremely influential role she plays in his public and private life.

Witness the president's comments Wednesday after signing an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls. Obama praised his wife as the "rock" of the family, citing the "skill and grace" with which she approached balancing her work and her family.

"I can't imagine a better sounding board for the President than Michelle," said Jennifer Burton, a Democratic party strategist. Burton praised the first lady's decision to not engage deeply yet on the policy and political fronts, arguing that it "gives her good perspective and an ability to give him an alternate opinion."

Michelle Obama's emergence is not without potential peril, however. Remember that in the early days of her husband's presidential campaign she was front and center before she made comments regarding her pride in America -- we are paraphrasing -- that Republicans seized on and led to a diminution in her public advocacy.

First ladies -- from Eleanor Roosevelt to Hillary Rodham Clinton to Laura Bush -- have each approached the job differently and with varying levels of success. Fifty days in, it is still too early to determine what approach Michelle Obama will take, and her place in that long lineage remains up in the air.

RNC Picks Head Honcho: Ken McKay will be announced today as the new executive director at the Republican National Committee, according to sources familiar with the move. McKay came to prominence as campaign manager for Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri's (R) 2002 victory; he went on to serve as chief of staff to Carcieri from 2003 to 2006 and then managed Carcieri's reelection win. A source close to the decision painted McKay's ability to guide a candidate to victory in one of the most Democratic states in the country as well as his experience at the state level as the major selling points for McKay.

Thursday Must-Reads: Thursday is the Fix's favorite day of the week. It's like brunch -- not quite breakfast, not quite lunch but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end.

1. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter tries to make a plane, opens security door, all heck breaks loose. The incumbent, who is already a major Democratic target in 2010, isn't helping himself any.
2. Ramesh Ponnuru argues that Rush Limbaugh's increasingly high profile in national politics is good for Republicans looking for an identity.
3. Shira Toeplitz (of Roll Call) goes inside the Pennsylvania voter registration numbers and concludes that Sen. Arlen Specter (R) is in deep trouble.
4. Sports Illustrated on Alaska's "First Dude" and the Iron Dog.
5. Former NBA great Dave Bing exaggerated his educational credentials -- on camera. Not good especially when you are in a runoff to be the mayor of Detroit.

National Committees Weigh In On NY-20: With the special election in New York's 20th district now just three weeks away, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee are both spending money on television ads in the race. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the DCCC has dropped $148,000 in independent expenditures on the contest for ads produced by Ralston-Lapp, a Democratic consulting firm in which John Lapp, a former executive director of the DCCC, is a partner. The NRCC, meanwhile, has spent nearly $200,000 on the race so far including more than $146,000 earlier this week for a television buy attacking Democratic nominee Scott Murphy. Democrats believe Murphy has the momentum, pointing to a Benenson Strategy Group poll that showed him trailing state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco by just seven points. An internal poll conducted for Murphy that came out of the field very recently mirrored the results of the Benenson poll, according to those briefed on the results. Ken Spain, communications director for the NRCC, insisted that his committee expected the race to tighten, noting that now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) held the seat in 2006 and 2008 and that President Obama won it last fall.

Conant Moves On: Alex Conant, who kept the Republican National Committee press shop afloat -- and on the attack against Obama -- during the tumultuous transition between chairmen earlier this year, is stepping aside. Conant will remain a senior adviser to the RNC but will also return to his newspaper roots (he was the editor of the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin) by doing some writing and consulting on the side. The Fix's favorite Conant memory? Meeting his dad at the Republican National Convention as Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers great and 2006 gubernatorial candidate, looked on.

Failor to Succeed in Iowa? Ed Failor Jr., a prominent Republican activist in Iowa, is weighing a run for governor in 2010 against Democratic Gov. Chet Culver. "About a month ago I was approached by some folks who I respect and trust who
suggested I should consider a run," said Failor. "That is what I am doing." Failor is currently the president of Iowans for Tax Relief and during the 2008 Iowa presidential caucuses was a coveted endorser. (He backed Sen. John McCain before stepping aside from the campaign in the summer of 2008 following the resignations of campaign manager Terry Nelson and senior adviser John Weaver.) It's not immediately clear whether Culver is truly vulnerable. He pummeled then Rep. Jim Nussle (R) by 10 points in 2006 and President Obama won the state by nine points last fall. If Failor does run, expect all the presidential wannabes to come under serious pressure to back him as a down payment on a 2012 endorsement.

Click It!: Super-villain Lex Luthor (a.k.a. actor Jon Hamm) asks President Obama for a bailout. So good.

Say What?: "That means it's none of your g--d--- business. If you paid the 20 grand for the poll, you can get some information out of it." -- Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, as only he can, tells local reporters he won't be releasing results of a recent internal poll.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 12, 2009; 5:44 AM ET
Categories:  Cheat Sheet Share This:  E-Mail | Technorati | Del.icio.us | Digg | Stumble Previous: Steele's Rocky Road
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"We Austrians do believe in rules, just not regulation."

So you believe in laws but not the police?

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"After you, again, explain how the founding fathers were all anti-deists, collectiveists, in search of a Betsy Ross who coud sew a great looking Mao jacket"

Actually they were mostly Deists, but that's just a dodge of the question. You're the one labeling people here, I want to see if you have any idea what that label means (and the typical Republican error of mixing Marxism and Maoism is already showing through).

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The President has a great family,his wife may be little to pretty for him, but that O.K., and his children remind me of the commercial; Priceless.

Posted by: curtisjewlry | March 12, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Love the Simpsons reference (and the link). I think that was the first episode I ever saw (yes I was late to the party) and have been hooked ever since!

Posted by: otabenga | March 12, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

"Now, let's see if you know more than the average Republican. Please explain to us the principles of Marxism.'

After you, again, explain how the founding fathers were all anti-deists, collectiveists, in search of a Betsy Ross who coud sew a great looking Mao jacket.

Posted by: leapin | March 12, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

We Austrians do believe in rules, just not regulation.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 12, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

mark in Austin. Since monetary policy got us into this (Milton what happened) I think it is unrealistic to believe that no government intervention Is proper. I guess it is a matter of scope.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

"Does anyone have any info on the cost of MO's wardrobe and who's paying for it?"

Well, since she shops at J. Crew, it is probably 100's of thousands cheaper than Nancy Reagan's.

FROM TIME MAGAZINE: "The First Lady's acquisitions may have put the Reagans' in Dutch with the Internal Revenue Service. Tax experts consulted by TIME, including former Internal Revenue Service commissioner Sheldon Cohen and Harvard Law professor Bernard Wolfman, unanimously agree that gifts or loans of clothing to Mrs. Reagan represent taxable income when the donors benefit from her display of their creations. A gift is not taxable only when it is given out of "detached and disinterested generosity." The designers who loaned or gave the outfits, some valued at more than $20,000, were aware of the publicity they would receive. In a 1982 Women's Wear Daily interview, couturier James Galanos was enthusiastic about lending gowns to Mrs. Reagan, "since designers profit so much from her wearing them." Because none of the loans or gifts were listed on the Reagans' joint tax returns from 1982 to 1987, the First Couple may owe a substantial amount in back taxes."

Posted by: Skye1er | March 12, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

"For those who observe over a longer time period than one day the answer is not after days of declines totaling hundreds of points."

Just judging by the standards you guys set. I said the very same thing while you guys were harping on the conitnued falling of the market from the Bush crash as a sign of Obama's "failure." Guess what, right now the market is back up 10% in a week, and may well climb further as the banks and GM now say they no longer require bailout money.

The realization that the old rules of corporate handouts with no strings attached have begun to take hold and are forcing these guys to get their houses in order. A good start that is putting the market at ease for now (that hopefully will continue, but still too early to tell). We still have a long way to go to recovery, but the makrets may well have finally bottomed out, the rest of the economy will then likely begin recovery in the next few months. Excellent news (unless, of course, you're a Republican...).

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

KOZ - I was thinking of Schumpeter on free trade and although he was no Keynesian I guess he was not really part of the same "school" as Von Mises.

And I guess I should shorthand the Austrians as "Misesian" not "Miesian" - so that architects do not get sideways.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

"No, It's not Barry's thing and is the antithesis of neo-Marxism."

Now, let's see if you know more than the average Republican. Please explain to us the principles of Marxism.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse


Would I be off the libertarian reservation if I suggested that a Miesian would:

1] Not have attempted a bailout of any kind;

2] Not have attempted a "stimulus" package -long or short or medium term;

3] Not be proposing the re-regulation of the securities, insurance, and banking industries;

4] Not be concerned with Chinese monetary and trade policy except as it excluded American goods from the Chinese marketplace [on this one I admit only the foggiest recollection - one of those Austrians was not as big an unrestricted free trader as the others];


5] be waiting for the financial markets to return to equilibrium after the massive failures of the big banks?

Further, what would have been the Miesian response to Europe and Asia pouring government capital into their financial institutions and running stimulus programs while we were not?

I am not asking these as rhetorical questions. But if libertarian policy would provide a workable alternative, these questions come to mind.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 12, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Obama has personally destroyed more wealth than in all the wildest dreams of even the most vicious Muslim terrorist. Funny how that worked out.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 12, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

""...(as) California case was filed by U.S. military, (sworn to uphold the Constitution), from all branches asks:

No, It's not Barry's thing and is the antithesis of neo-Marxism.

Posted by: leapin | March 12, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

“And yet the market is up 70 points. By your own standards, Obama must be succeeding.....”

For those who observe over a longer time period than one day the answer is not after days of declines totaling hundreds of points. Beside BHO doesn’t think market swings are important and he doesn’t invest himself as he has nice government compensation and benefit package. How you seen the retirement benefits? Makes Michelle proud of her country.

Posted by: leapin | March 12, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"...(as) California case was filed by U.S. military, (sworn to uphold the Constitution), from all branches asks:

Always good to see we still have the John Birch society and their tea parties attended by dozens to kick around.

With these nonsense lawsuits now being openly mocked by the courts, those military members might do themselves some good by recognizing Article 88 of the UCMJ. It's getting dangerously close to a threatened coup d'etat.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Only if she were a socialist.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Michele's comment that she loves calling Clinton a secretary reeked.

The better resume was overlooked so her N.P.D. husband can occupy the Oval office, as a California case was filed by U.S. military, (sworn to uphold the Constitution), from all branches asks:

The troops parents and Flower power grandparents, on Tea Party sabatical for as long as it takes, to keep tax money from funding the porkfest until it can be penned out of exsistance by the new Oval office occupant, is an all American effort.

Biden "the Bulldog smile" just waiting, and Clinton "the Cheshire cat grin" and her a "goodbye look", from Barry Soreto's Islam Koran school in Indonesia are the American's who show us that men and women are working equally to keep the Constitutional Republic from attacks.

We can only hope that Biden has the ball, and Clinton has been running the plays and support Internationally, to assert that there is some thread of America left.

It is sickening to see the alcohol ridden Obama Budjet carting our downfall around.
I hope the troops know American's are still with them today.

Posted by: dottydo | March 12, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone have any info on the cost of MO's wardrobe and who's paying for it?

Wouldn't a simple, socialist proletariat
dress do?

Posted by: leapin | March 12, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Also, a Siena poll out this morning has Murphy's deficit down to 4 (Note: the district is R+15):


Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"massive job losses reported today."

And yet the market is up 70 points. By your own standards, Obama must be succeeding.....

Posted by: kreuz_missile | March 12, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Those who are slinging mud at Michelle and Barack regarding their respective stances on the war and on the military need a long-term memory fix.

Yes, Obama was against the war, but that is not synonymous with being against people who serve in our military. EVERY one of his remarks about the military has been reverent and respectful of sacrifice. That's different from being against a war that has cost us TRILLIONS (spent outside the budget) and cost over 4000 U.S. lives and a large multiple of that in Iraqi civilian lives -- for dubious causes/merit.

Throughout the campaign, it was Obama, not McCain, who talked about needing to care for military families after their return. (Check McCain's acceptance speech and you will find that he didn't mention veterans once.)

Obama has already boosted pay for the military and is increasing aid to Veterans hospitals and mental-health treatment centers. He "gets" that the cost of war involves those who come home, not just those who are lost.

Michelle has visited military families and military wives several times before this so 'get a grip': this is a couple who "walk the walk" -- with everyone deserving of attention. Your spitefulness about an Obama victory needs to be tempered with FACTS.

Posted by: bweyand1 | March 12, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh boy. So this woman who wasn't proud of our country until her incompetent husband ran for president, will descend on our military families.
These folks are the ones whose spouses served in the surge, and all but eliminated Al qaeda, while her bozo husband was denying everything about it. What an embarrassment to see this patronizing phony use our great Americans like this. Also contemptible to see you media types sloobering and drooling over her.

Posted by: LarryG621 | March 12, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

looks like it will be a busy primary season in ky. sec. of state trey grayson says he's in if bunning is out. david williams, president of the ky senate, accused bunning and grayson of scheming together. williams himself met with john cornyn and mcconnell staffers and is weighing a bid. not to mention that ron paul's son, rand paul, is also considering a run in the repub. primary.

then for the dems it's lt. gov. moniardo vs. attorney general jack conway.

the fancy farm picnic should be great this year.


Posted by: plathman | March 12, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

TO: MICHELLE OBAMA (staff, please forward)



Still-secret Bush Justice Department memos are believed to have approved the covert use of classified, silent microwave radiation weapons on U.S. citizens -- "targeted" under the pretext of the "war on terror" as "undesirables" and "dissidents."

Victims, including the journalist who authored the articles linked below, say these painful, debilitating and illness-inducing microwave assaults constitute torture and "slow-kill" (a military descriptive) homicide -- what could be described as an American genocide.

Victims of these assaults say their family finances are decimated by an array of secret "programs of personal financial destruction" that involve the forced cooperation of private enterprise; surveillance and interception of mail and telecommunications; and the forging of billing, utility, banking and mortgage statements -- what they charge is a process of expropriation and theft by deception.

Sources say these covert programs were justified by the Bush Justice Department under legal theories that are said to include a suspected "nexus to terrorism" and, according to a source, the legal theory that weapons and/or medical experimentation on U.S. citizens is permissible if subjects are under federal investigation for suspected offenses.

These microwave weapons assaults have continued under the Obama administration, and are facilitated by an "extrajudicial punishment network" enabled by federal agencies; local police nationwide; and "community gang stalker" citizen vigilantes fronted by government-funded community policing and volunteer organizations.


Victims have asked the FBI/Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation. They say officials have told them they see nothing to investigate, and hint that victim accounts are delusional.

Victims maintain that marginalizing the persecuted as "unstable" or "mentally ill" is a tactic being used to cover up crimes against humanity, a highly organized and well-funded social genocide.



* Silent, covert microwave radiation weapons assaults on innocent but "targeted" U.S. citizens;

* Terroristic vigilante community gang stalking, surreptitious home entry, police-tolerated vandalism;

* Secret federal "programs of personal financial destruction" that use the IRS as an ideological tool of "social cleansing."


OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):


Posted by: scrivener50 | March 12, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

massive job losses reported today. The lib economy is in full swing. Dodd, barney, upchuk, barry.harry.nan, you must be proud of your (un)accomplishment. Hey I got a liberal idea. Spend more and reward your homies.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 12, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Zouk - I find it unbelievable that you actually believe all the stuff you post. Are you messing with us or is it for real?

Posted by: niquin21 | March 12, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

If I was married to Erkle, I think I would be "stepping out" as well.

Of course it looks as though Michelle's mother may have been "stepping out" with the late James Brown.

Oh, BTW Michelle - Make sure you're behind some Plexiglas when you visit the military bases. I can't imagine Obummer is too popular at any of them and I wouldn't want any errant tomatoes to stain your dress.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | March 12, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Something tells me that when barry closed the door yesterday to do his "line by line" thing, it had nothing to do with budgets. I wonder if he sneaked a smoke afterwards. The hypocrisy is staggering.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | March 12, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Or perhaps CC and/or Conant met Swann's dad, with Swann.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 12, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Chris blogged:

"The Fix's favorite Conant memory? Meeting his dad at the Republican National Convention as Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers great and 2006 gubernatorial candidate, looked on."

What does this mean?

1] CC remembers Conant because he met Conant's dad at the RNConv;

2] CC remembers Conant because CC met CC's dad
at the RNConv;

3] Conant told CC Conant met CC's dad at the RNConv;

4] Conant told CC that Conant met Conant's dad at the RNConv; or

5] The presence of Lynn Swann makes meeting dads memorable.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 12, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Vitter is truly a sick character.

He just gets done slamming Obama and the Dems over "responsibility" in the budget, etc., then he demands a commercial flight turn into his own private jet. Amazing...


Posted by: parkerfl1 | March 12, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Not one mention of the rise in Congresses approval rating.

I know Chris, you like to create horse races, but a 20% rise in Congress approval rating is terrible news for the GOP.

Posted by: PJF311 | March 12, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

I am not so sure if she is the right man for this job?

Posted by: newbeeboy | March 12, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Second thought just stay in the house.

Posted by: WRH51 | March 12, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Are we sure this is not going to take the first lady out of character. Perhaps she can tell these folks how proud she is for the first time in her life. Perhaps she will stop and be grateful for once in her life that if it were not for our brave men & women in our Armed Forces she would not be part of the hoodwinking of the obama circus.

Posted by: WRH51 | March 12, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

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