As the Obama transition out of the White House, we can start to gauge the impact of Michelle Obama on the office of First Lady and her role in American history.
From the outset, her status in history books was already assumed to be set: she would be the first African-American first lady.
But it is clear that her impact on society transcends and expands beyond just that single fact.
Entering the White House in 2009, Michelle made clear her first focus was on the Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, who were 10 and 7 at the time. Michelle’s initial travel and event schedule was quieter than prior first ladies, in order to allow her to spend more time with her daughters.
However, on a trip to London that year, Obama realized the influence and empowerment she could bestow through her position, especially with children and especially disadvantaged youth.
“If you want to know the reason why I’m standing here, it’s because of education. I loved getting A’s. I liked being smart. I loved being on time. I loved getting my work done. I thought being smart was cooler than anything in the world,” she said on that trip. This message would be the backbone of her message as First Lady throughout her time in the White House.
Obama started to “turn the needle” to spend time and effort with projects such as childhood obesity, education, veterans and military families, healthy eating, the Let’s Move! Initiative, and even creating a White House garden.
At the dedication of the garden, Obama said:
“This garden has taught us that if we have the courage to plant a seed, just be brave enough to plant it, then take care of it, water it, tend to it, invite friends to help us take care of it, weather the storms that inevitably come, if we have the courage to do that, we never know what might grow. Now that’s what this garden has taught me, to be fearless in those efforts, to try some new things, to not be afraid to mess up. Things we tell our kids all the time.”
Even when she becomes former first lady, Michelle Obama has cemented that message in the lives of millions of Americans and people across the globe.
When America watches Election Day returns tonight, they’ll measure winners and losers using Republican Red against Democratic Blue. But this hasn’t always been the case.
Philip Bump at the Washington Post provides some background on this color-coordination in his latest piece, Red vs. Blue: A history of how we use political colors. Many people today would be surprised to realize this partisan designation is a relatively modern development. As Bump writes:
In 1992, David Nyhan of the Boston Globe wrote of his mixed feelings about Bill Clinton’s candidacy. “[W]hen the anchormen turn to their electronic tote boards election night,” he wrote, “and the red states for Clinton start swamping the blue states for Bush, this will be a strange night for me.” You’ll notice that those colors are backward, by our current understanding. Nyhan is being figurative we can assume, recognizing the standard red-blue split if not the significance of the colors.
Whether your candidate is represented by blue, red, yellow, green, orange or any other color, be sure to utilize your right as an American and vote today!
One of the most famous White House moments without a president was Jackie Kennedy’s tour of the White House 50 years ago. She saw the potential for connecting with the American people and television network news divisions have been trying to replicate the upclose personal feel for the people who inhabit the White House eve rsince. Merrill Knox of FISHBOWL tells the story an interviews the CBS producer, “This week marks the 50th anniversary of Jackie Kennedy’s famous televised tour of a newly-restored White House, which was broadcast on three networks and drew 50 million viewers. The broadcast was produced by CBS producer Perry Wolff, who is now 90 years old. Scott Pelley caught up with Wolff last night on “Evening News”:
Rayburn, O’Neil, McCormack and Hastert in Top Four
With today’s historic shift to a Republican controlled House of Representatives, here is the latest Wikipedia list of tenure of the “Speaker of the House” over history. Imagine what Washington was like with the reign of Sam Rayburn who held the Speakers chair for over 17 years. He was followed by Tip O’Neill with 9 years and 350 days, John McCormack with 8 years and 344 days and Dennis Hassert with 7 years and 359 day. Nancy Pelosi beat out Newt Gingrich by only 2 days with Pelsosi serving 3 years and 363 days.