I have seen the future for women leaders in the United States of America – and it’s not Hillary Clinton. Clinton might well become the next American president, the first female American president, but she will do so under a cloud. Notwithstanding the unmitigated ardor of her most fervent supporters, the totally of Clinton’s record is too tarnished for any electoral victory to be entirely celebratory.
Michelle Obama is different altogether. She is unfettered by her political past, which is precisely why she represents the political future.
She is known to have disdained politics before, during, and after her husband entered the political fray. Moreover after she became First Lady, her previous professional accomplishments notwithstanding, Obama spent most of her time behind the White House curtain. Most of her time in the White House she emerged from behind that curtain only to look great and engage in a few activities, every one of which might have been undertaken by First Ladies of a generation or two, or even three or four, ago. Michelle Obama even rejected the part that Jacqueline Kennedy and other predecessors played – that of supremely skilled White House hostess, using the perks of the presidential perch to grease the wheels of politics in Washington.
But during the last half year of her husband’s presidency, Michelle Obama has, for whatever reasons, metamorphosed. As the direct result of two sensational speeches – the first delivered this summer at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, the second delivered yesterday, on the stump in Manchester, New Hampshire – she has willfully and deliberately catapulted herself onto the national stage. Moreover, she has done so in her own right, on her own manifest strengths and merits.
It is impossible for me to believe that when her husband’s time in office is over, she will revert to where she was until recently. Michelle Obama has tasted the fruit of political influence, which usually is irresistible.