Oprah Talks to Michelle Obama
Oprah: Now that your husband is president, everybody has an opinion about what he should or should not be doing. How do you handle that? I sometimes get offended—and I'm not married to him!
Michelle Obama: We live in the experience that we're actually having. In just a few weeks, my husband got a stimulus bill passed and made some amazing policy changes that will affect people's lives in a fundamentally positive way. I'm so proud of him. That's the reality. Everything else is just what comes with the territory. The people who disagree with Barack don't dislike him; they just disagree. That's what democracy is about. But at some point, you've got to make a decision and move forward, and your hope is that people will give you the benefit of the doubt that you're making decisions based on what you think is best for the country.
Oprah: Gayle once interviewed you for her radio show and was blown away by something you said: that your husband has never disappointed you. Gayle was like, "I can't believe that!"
Michelle Obama: Barack is a human being with flaws. And I can rattle down all the flaws and tease him about them every day, but those flaws are not fundamental. They don't hit upon things that are intolerable to me. In terms of his core values, he has never disappointed me. He is a very consistent person—which is why I knew unequivocally that he would be a phenomenal president. He is steady. Has he made me mad? Yes. Does he sometimes do things that I don't like? Absolutely.
Oprah: That's called marriage.
Michelle Obama: But as a human being, he has never disappointed. And I would hope he could say the same about me. Ask him!
Oprah: I will. First chance I get. Has your love deepened during this whole process?
Michelle Obama: Absolutely. I don't lose sight of the fact that he's the president, but first and foremost he's my husband, my friend, and the father of my children. That didn't change with his hand on the Lincoln Bible. But it doesn't mean I don't appreciate the gravity of what he's doing. The way I can honor that is by working by his side and adding value to what he's doing in any way that I can. That's my part in this. That's why I'm out there trying to be an aid and a support to his vision and his values. I am supporting the president of the United States.
Oprah: It seems that every woman I speak to—black, white, older, younger—says the same thing about you: "She's just like us." People feel an affection for you that I find so touching.
Michelle Obama: I've always thought that what I owe the American people is to let them see who I am so there are no surprises. I don't want to be anyone but Michelle Obama. And I want people to know what they're getting.
Oprah: What I see in you is a confidence that comes from such an authentic place. A reporter who interviewed me 10 years after she'd first met me said, "Gee, you're the same person—but it feels like you've become more of yourself." When did you get to be this much of yourself?
Michelle Obama: I think in my 40s, I started feeling very comfortable in my own skin. Motherhood helps, marriage helps—those learning curves that force you to be better. And my hope is that my 50s will hone that. I never consider myself a finished project.
O: So what do you know for sure, Michelle Obama?
Michelle Obama: I know that all I can do is be the best me that I can. And live life with some gusto. Giving back is a big part of that. How am I going to share this experience with the American people? I'm always thinking about that.
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