Slate: 'Mom-In-Chief' Silent On Her Professional Life

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama speaks at the DNC (Getty Images).

On my late flight from California last night, the screens on the seats in front of me were a sea of blue background: Almost everyone was watching Michelle Obama's convention speech. Today, a cutting commentary by Kerry Howley on Slate's XXfactor makes a very good point about what the first lady didn't say. (NPR has the full transcript of her speech here.) What we learned last night, it says, is that apparently "Michelle Obama has never aspired to anything but to be the most powerful mother on the planet."

Says the first lady:

"Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys: … Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at Grandma's house … and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn't stay awake for both."

What we never learn, in this 3,000-word speech, is why Michelle Obama was so exhausted. Had she just finished a three-hour marathon? Was she ill? Pregnant once again? That she had spent the day corporate lawyering, or acting as an assistant to the mayor of Chicago, or filling various executive positions with the University of Chicago Hospitals, is not a detail she chooses to share. You would never know from last night’s speech that Obama had ever exerted herself in any way in exchange for legal tender.

The commentary makes the point that the Obama team was trying to "out-traditional" the Republicans, and mentions Hillary Clinton's fateful remark about deciding not to stay home and "bake cookies." Sigh. Now where did I put those Tollhouse chips?

More on what isn't said at the conventions: A hilarious Washington Post essay, The convention speech you'll never hear.

This program aired on September 5, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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