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The Other Obama

Written by eastern writer on Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ya, Barack Obama today has become "top headline" in most mass media from US to Asia, and particularly Indonesia, where Obama spent his chilhood in this country. What make people are interested to talk about Obama, I think because Obama represent the new voice of America. People, almost Indonesian, hope Obama will bring America to the new power for peace, which take respect for the difference, moslem and minorities. Here is a good view of Obama which I found at the New Yorker.

One January afternoon at the University of South Carolina’s Children’s Center, in Columbia, Michelle Obama scrunched her five-eleven frame into a small white wooden rocking chair. The state’s Democratic primary, which her husband, Barack, needed badly to win, was in forty-eight hours. Obama picked up a picture book, flared her nostrils, and began sniffing noisily, in the manner of a bear foraging in the woods for dinner.

“Boom! Boom! Boom!” she read to a group of preschoolers. “The bear will tromp through the forest on his big hungry feet and”—sniff, sniff, sniff—“find that strawberry, no matter where it’s hidden.”

The kids burst into giggles. Obama picked up another book, from the “Olivia” series.

“I have Olivia in my four-year-old class!” one boy yelled.

“Is she a friend of yours?” Obama asked.


“Is she a pig?”

Soon, the story was over. “Let’s see,” Obama said. “Maybe we have a special guest who will read to us.”

She got up from the rocking chair and walked over to a set of French doors. “It’s Cocky!” the kids shouted as Obama threw open the doors to welcome an enormous red rooster, dressed in a U.S.C. basketball jersey. She flung her arms around Cocky to give him a hug, a gesture somewhat thwarted by his plush potbelly. “Cocky! Let’s read one book together with Cocky.”

Obama selected another book and held it up to Cocky’s beak. “Here you go, Cocky. Can you read?”

“Cocky, I love you!” a kid screamed.

Sharing the stage with a large, fuzzy piece of poultry might have daunted a more delicate sort of aspiring First Lady, but Obama took her eclipse by Cocky with the seen-it-all aplomb of one of the human characters on “Sesame Street.” That day, she was wearing a pair of high-waisted pin-striped sailor pants, a gray cashmere sweater, and a strand of pearls, but, though she is stylishly appointed, she is not dainty. She is often called “regal”—whether in The New Republic or in Glamour—but her bearing is less royal than military: brisk, often stone-faced (even when making jokes), mordant.

Obama works out like “a gladiator,” a friend has said. When people—they’re almost always shorter—ask her to pose for pictures, instead of bending her knees she leans at the waist, like the Tin Man. Her winningly chipmunk-cheeked smile is doled out sparingly, a privilege to be earned, rather than an icebreaker or an entreaty. Obama, who graduated from Princeton, earned a law degree from Harvard, and became, first, a corporate lawyer and, more recently, the vice-president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, spent all but the first year of her childhood in a four-room bungalow on Chicago’s South Side. Having traversed vast landscapes of race and class, often as a solo traveller, she evinces the discipline and, occasionally, the detachment of an Army brat. She can seem aloof from politics. Her mother and her older brother both say that she has never once phoned them in tears.

Obama is cool in temperament. When Stevie Wonder, whom she was escorting to the stage at a rally in February, tripped on a riser, sending her tumbling down next to him in front of thousands of people, she exhibited no embarrassment or alarm, turning what could have been a blooper-reel nightmare into a non-event. She is unquestionably accomplished, but she is not a repressed intellectual, in the mode of Teresa Heinz Kerry. More than anything, she seems to enjoy talking about her husband and her daughters (Malia, nine, and Sasha, six). She can give the impression, in the midst of the campaign’s endless roundtables and kaffeeklatsches, that she’d rather be talking to them. Obama seems like an iconoclast precisely because she’s normal (the norm for a candidate’s wife having been defined, in the past, as nonworking, white, and pious about the democratic process).

Obama is also cool in the other sense of the word; her tastes, references, and vocabulary—“freaky,” “24/7,” “got my back,” “American Idol,” Judge Mathis—if not exactly edgy, are recognizable, which, for a political spouse, makes them seem radical. Of the Iowa State Fair’s corn dogs and candied apples, obligingly gushed over by hopeful First Ladies every four years: “Stuff on a stick.” Here’s Obama, talking to me in her motorcade halfway between Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Green Bay about Obama Girl, the young woman who professed her crush on Obama’s husband all over the Internet: “That was a little weird, because, you know . . . I just assumed, you know, there’s no way anybody’s gonna hear about that. And one day Sasha comes home and she’s, like, ‘Daddy has a girlfriend. It’s you, Mommy.’ And it’s, like, ‘Oh, shhhhhhhhh—yeah.’ ” Curse word averted, barely.

Her lack of pretense has made her popular with the portion of the electorate, and the media, for whom prim Laura Bush seems out of touch. Cindy Moelis, who has known Obama since they worked together in Chicago’s city hall, in the nineties, told me, “I’ve actually had girlfriends call me and go, ‘You’re so lucky. If I’d only met her fifteen years ago, I bet we would be best friends.’ ” “Can Michelle Obama Be First Lady No Matter What?” pleaded the headline for a post on Wonkette, the political blog, about a gathering of candidates’ wives. “Please don’t get all Botoxed and start acting like some sort of Stepford wife. Please?” the post went on, remarking approvingly on what it termed the “ ‘bitch, please’ look” that Obama had seemed unable to suppress in the wake of a comment by Ann Romney.

read more this artcile at The New Yorker

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