Michelle Obama rips Trump in new book

The Prince George Citizen - - A&e - Deb RIECHMANN

WASH­ING­TON — For­mer first lady Michelle Obama blasts Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in her new book, writ­ing how she re­acted in shock the night she learned he would re­place her hus­band in the Oval Of­fice and tried to “block it all out.”

She also de­nounces Trump’s “birther” cam­paign ques­tion­ing her hus­band’s cit­i­zen­ship, call­ing it big­oted and dan­ger­ous, “de­lib­er­ately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks.”

In her mem­oir Be­com­ing, set to come out Tues­day, Obama writes openly about ev­ery­thing from grow­ing up in Chicago to con­fronting racism in pub­lic life to her amaze­ment at be­com­ing the coun­try’s first black first lady. She also re­flects on early strug­gles in her mar­riage to Barack Obama as he be­gan his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer and was of­ten away. She writes that they met with a coun­sel­lor “a hand­ful of times,” and she came to re­al­ize that she was more “in charge” of her hap­pi­ness than she had re­al­ized. “This was my pivot point,” Obama ex­plains. “My mo­ment of self-ar­rest.”

Obama writes that she as­sumed Trump was “grand­stand­ing” when he an­nounced his pres­i­den­tial run in 2015. She ex­presses dis­be­lief over how so many women would choose a “misog­y­nist” over Hil­lary Clin­ton, “an ex­cep­tion­ally qual­i­fied fe­male can­di­date.” She re­mem­bers how her body “buzzed with fury” af­ter see­ing the in­fa­mous Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood tape, in which Trump brags about sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women.

She also ac­cuses Trump of us­ing body lan­guage to “stalk” Clin­ton dur­ing an elec­tion de­bate. She writes of Trump fol­low­ing Clin­ton around the stage, stand­ing nearby and “try­ing to di­min­ish her pres­ence.”

Trump’s mes­sage, ac­cord­ing to Obama, in words which ap­pear in the book in dark­ened print: “I can hurt you and get away with it.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press pur­chased an early copy of Be­com­ing, one of the most an­tic­i­pated po­lit­i­cal books in re­cent mem­ory. Obama is ad­mired world­wide and has of­fered few ex­ten­sive com­ments on her White House years. And mem­oirs by for­mer first ladies, in­clud­ing Clin­ton and Laura Bush, are usu­ally best­sellers.

Obama launches her pro­mo­tional tour Tues­day not at a book­store, but at Chicago’s United Cen­ter, where tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have pur­chased tick­ets – from just un­der $30 to thou­sands of dol­lars – to at­tend the event mod­er­ated by Oprah Win­frey. Other stops on a tour scaled to rock star di­men­sions are planned at large are­nas from New York City’s Bar­clays Cen­ter to the Los An­ge­les Fo­rum, with guests in­clud­ing Reese With­er­spoon and Sarah Jes­sica Parker. While some fans have crit­i­cized the price as too high, 10 per cent of tick­ets at each event are be­ing do­nated to lo­cal char­i­ties, schools and com­mu­nity groups.

In Be­com­ing, Obama shares both pain and joy. She writes lov­ingly of her fam­ily and gives a de­tailed ac­count of her courtship with her fu­ture hus­band, whom she met when both were at the Chicago law firm Si­d­ley Austin LLP; she was ini­tially his ad­viser. Sec­re­taries claimed he was both bril­liant and “cute,” al­though Michelle Obama was skep­ti­cal, writ­ing that white peo­ple went “bonkers” any time you “put a suit” on a “half-in­tel­li­gent black man.” She also thought his pic­ture had a “whiff of geek­i­ness.”

But she was more than im­pressed af­ter meet­ing him, by his “rich, even sexy bari­tone” and by his “strange, stir­ring com­bi­na­tion” of seren­ity and power. “This strange mix-of-ev­ery­thing-man,” when she fi­nally let him kiss her, set off a “top­pling blast of lust, grat­i­tude, ful­fil­ment, won­der.”

But through­out her hus­band’s life in pol­i­tics, she fought to bal­ance pub­lic and pri­vate needs, and to main­tain her self-es­teem. She ag­o­nized over what she feared was a car­toon­ish, racist im­age. She re­mem­bered be­ing la­beled “an­gry” and, by the Fox net­work, “Obama’s Baby Mama.” At times, she feared she was dam­ag­ing her hus­band’s 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, es­pe­cially af­ter con­ser­va­tives seized on a line from one of her speeches – taken out of con­text, she notes – that for the first time as an adult she was “re­ally proud” of her coun­try.

The re­marks faded from the news, but she sensed last­ing dam­age, a “per­ni­cious seed,” a “per­cep­tion” that she was “dis­grun­tled and vaguely hos­tile.”

As the first black first lady, she knew she would be la­beled “other” and would have to earn the aura of “grace” given freely to her white pre­de­ces­sors. She found con­fi­dence in re­peat­ing to her­self a favourite chant: “Am I good enough? Yes I am.”

Be­com­ing is part of a joint book deal with for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, whose mem­oir is ex­pected next year, that is be­lieved worth tens of mil­lions of dol­lars. The Oba­mas have said they will do­nate a “sig­nif­i­cant por­tion” of their author pro­ceeds to char­ity, in­clud­ing the Obama Foun­da­tion.

Widely praised as a gifted ora­tor and com­mu­ni­ca­tor, Obama has long said she has no in­ter­est in run­ning for of­fice, al­though she held a few cam­paign-style ral­lies be­fore the midterms urg­ing peo­ple to reg­is­ter to vote. The ral­lies were part of her work as co-chair­man of the non­par­ti­san, non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion When We All Vote.

Last month, she launched a pro­gram to help em­power girls world­wide through ed­u­ca­tion. The Global Girls Al­liance aims to sup­port about 1,500 grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tions com­bat­ing the chal­lenges girls en­counter in their com­mu­ni­ties.

CI­TI­ZEN NEWS SER­VICE PHOTO BY GER­ALD HERBERT

For­mer first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Amer­i­can Library As­so­ci­a­tion an­nual con­fer­ence in New Or­leans last June. Obama is launch­ing a book tour to pro­mote her mem­oir Be­com­ing.

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