There’s something sorely missing at the White House and it’s not just a president with integrity. The newly minted First Wife Melania Trump seems unwilling to take on the role that was admittedly thrust upon her. That telling look of doom at her husband’s inauguration seemed to say it all.
So far media attention has been on her immaculate sense of fashion, her libel lawsuit against the Daily Mail for insinuating she had been an escort and how she might use her position to bolster her business empire. Think Kim Kardashian as America’s premier woman but (slightly) classier.
It couldn’t be further from the vital role Michelle Obama played as First Lady, arguably the most influential since Jackie Kennedy and surely the warmest ever. Her social activism has been inspiring, no more so than her ‘Joining Forces’ veteran welfare program (started with former Vice First LadyJill Biden) which Thomas Morton experiences first hand during the final stretch of Obama’s tenure on the latest episode of Balls Deep.
We love her for that and so much more. Here’s why we miss the 44th First Lady.
Her tireless social activism
In a cursory internet search of the top news stories about former First Lady Michelle Obama living life as a private citizen, she’s become tabloid fodder. Michelle Obama feels the burn at SoulCycle in DC! Michelle Obama turns down Dancing With The Stars!
Of course, Obama deserves much better than that. Over her eight-year tenure, she used her position to tirelessly, selflessly and enthusiastically promote social welfare.
The ‘Joining Forces’ housing initiative which aims to end veteran homelessness, has to date helped house 354,000 veterans and their families. “This has been some of the most gratifying work that I’ve ever done in my life,” she says.
Also close to Obama’s heart was her ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative encouraging a healthy lifestyle in children, and ‘Let Girls Learn’ assisting young women around the world to have greater access to education.
And while Obama doesn’t have the same high profile platform, she’s vowed to continue her work. It’s hard to imagine ol’ whatserface even scratching the surface of what she has achieved. (Take that, Trump!)
Her relatability and that smile
Growing up in a working-class family in Chicago’s south side and her white-collar career as a lawyer gave her a credibility that helped bridge social divides. Whether it was reading children’s stories or empathising with war veterans, the every-person felt special and at ease in her presence.
Obama also had a terrific sense of humour, never afraid to throw some shade at her husband or have some fun at her own expense. Promoting ‘Let’s Move’ on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, she danced beside a dragged-up Fallon performing a series of mum dance moves.
On The Late Late Show with James Corden last year, she promoted ‘Let Girls Learn’ between grooving up a storm in ‘Car Pool Karaoke’ and rapping with Missy Elliot. She was hip and down to earth all at once.
Her generosity of spirit and charm
Obama cared about everyone, no matter who they were. She had warmth and charm to burn. When she and former POTUS Barack hosted 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin at the White House early in 2016, they exemplified the charm offensives they’d become known for, almost with as much ebullience as their guest. In a joyous moment, the First Lady took McLaurin’s hand for a joyous dance.
Her hugs were legendary. The chances were very good that if you met her, you were going to be on the receiving end of a warm embrace.
“Sometimes her staff will roll their eyes, like O.K., here we go, because if there are 50 people who need to be hugged, she will hug them all,” former White House photographer Samantha Appleton has said.
Though some didn’t take to Obama, for many she was America’s surrogate mum.
The former FLOTUS also had this to burn – and never more so than in her iconic riposte to Trumpism at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. With her typical poised oration, Obama talked of teaching daughters Malia and Sasha to take the high road.
“We urge them to ignore those who question their citizenship or faith, how we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country,” she said. “How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is ‘When they go low, we go high’.”
She even reportedly wrote all her speeches. Oh, and she’s never stolen one, like someone else we know.
All the fantastic dancing
As discussed, Obama loves to dance and she’s not half bad at it too. Whether it was to Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” with Ellen Degeneres or performing “Thriller” with her husband for Halloween, dancing was a significant part of the infectious charisma that characterised her FLOTUS years.
Of course, it hasn’t been very long. Maybe the current First Lady can live up to her predecessor.
But we doubt it.
Watch the Michelle Obama episode of Balls Deep right here:
Balls Deep airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND and streams on SBS On Demand.