Michelle Obama: what’s next for the pop­u­lar First Lady?

What’s next for Michelle Obama? After her in­spir­ing Demo­cratic Con­ven­tion speech which wowed the world, Ni­cola Rus­sell asks what is in store for this charm­ing, in­tel­li­gent First Lady.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

Dur­ing her term as First Lady, she’s charmed the world with her warmth, ap­proach­a­bil­ity and fun, ded­i­cated her­self to her cho­sen causes with ad­mirable com­mit­ment, and em­pow­ered women with her sass, sense of self-be­lief and ro­bust val­ues. But when she stepped up to the mi­cro­phone at the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion (DNC) this year, Michelle Obama el­e­vated her­self to a whole new level. That speech ce­mented the for­mer lawyer and mother-of-two as a po­lit­i­cal or­a­tor in her own right – but more than that, it showed her to be the adult in the room of the 2016 United States elec­tion.

“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 said dur­ing a speech so un­touch­able, that even the big­gest bully in the school­yard was si­lenced within his so­cial me­dia fortress.

There, on Twit­ter, Don­ald Trump heck­led Bernie Sander’s gra­cious sur­ren­der to Hil­lary Clin­ton and name-called Sen­a­tor El­iz­a­beth War­ren ‘Pocahontas’, but he had noth­ing to say about Michelle’s speech, which ex­pertly coun­tered his commentary of the United States as a fail­ing na­tion in need of saving by cel­e­brat­ing Amer­ica and hail­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton as a role model for a pro­gress­ing na­tion.

“Don’t let any­one ever tell you that this coun­try isn’t great, that some­how we need to make it great again. Be­cause this, right now, is the great­est coun­try on earth.”

And on Hil­lary: “I want a pres­i­dent who will teach our chil­dren that ev­ery­one in this coun­try mat­ters – a pres­i­dent who truly be­lieves in the vi­sion that our founders put forth all those years ago: that we are all cre­ated equal, each a beloved part of the great Amer­i­can story. And when cri­sis hits, we don’t turn against each other – no, we lis­ten to each other. We lean on each other… And I am here tonight be­cause I know that that is the kind of pres­i­dent that Hil­lary Clin­ton will be. And that’s why, in this elec­tion, I’m with her.”

Her speech on July 25 uni­fied jour­nal­ists, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tors and the gen­eral pub­lic – and most im­por­tantly for the Democrats, it made progress in bridg­ing the gap be­tween dis­grun­tled Bernie Sanders sup­port­ers and the Hil­lary Clin­ton camp, a re­sult which led an­a­lysts to claim Michelle may in­deed be Clin­ton’s most pow­er­ful ally at this time.

Then Don­ald Trump went so far as to praise Michelle’s per­for­mance, in an in­ter­view with The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter. “I thought her de­liv­ery was ex­cel­lent,” he said. “I thought she did a very good job. I liked her speech.”

It was a com­ment that led to spec­u­la­tion Don­ald may even ad­mire the First Lady. Cer­tainly if im­i­ta­tion is the great­est form of flat­tery, the Repub­li­can camp showed this in pla­gia­ris­ing an ear­lier speech from the First Lady for Me­la­nia Trump.

While Michelle has em­phat­i­cally claimed she will not, like for­mer First Lady Hil­lary Clin­ton, be run­ning for pres­i­dent one day, it is clear that her fu­ture in sway­ing opin­ions is not over. “Hil­lary Clin­ton is an im­pres­sive woman, and I will not do what she has done,” she said dur­ing a White House event in April when ques­tioned by a teenage at­tendee. “I will not run for pres­i­dent.”

Her hus­band Barack has said the same. Ear­lier this year he com­mented, “There are three things that are cer­tain in life: death, taxes and Michelle is not run­ning for pres­i­dent. That, I can tell you.”

Speak­ing at the first-ever United State of Women sum­mit din­ner, Michelle ex­pressed her con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to her causes – specif­i­cally her Let Girls Learn ini­tia­tive. “I am so ex­cited to con­tinue work­ing on this is­sue,” she said, adding that she meant not just for her re­main­ing time as First Lady but “for the rest of my life”.

As part of her ad­dress at the din­ner, she an­nounced $20 mil­lion of new com­mit­ments to the ini­tia­tive, which pro­motes ed­u­ca­tion for ado­les­cent girls around the world. Her work for the cause is cer­tainly still in full flight. Michelle and her daugh­ters, Sasha and Malia, and her mother, Mar­ian Robin­son, flew to Liberia, Mo­rocco and Spain in July to meet local lead­ers and dis­cuss girls’ ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion. They were joined for parts of the tour by ac­tresses Freida Pinto and Meryl Streep in support of the ini­tia­tive.

For the trip Michelle de­buted her Snapchat ac­count, which, she ex­plained to James Cor­den of The Late Late Show, is a way of con­nect­ing with young peo­ple. “My mes­sage to girls here is, ‘Don’t take your ed­u­ca­tion for granted,’” she told James. “Be­cause there are girls in the world who would die to get the ed­u­ca­tion that we have. I want girls and boys here to be aware of that, so I want them to come along on this trip with me and Snapchat was a good way to kind of hook ’em in.”

That and her ap­pear­ance on

Car­pool Karaoke are both ex­am­ples of Michelle’s ex­pert use of me­dia to pro­mote her causes by us­ing her most im­por­tant as­set – re­lata­bil­ity. Car­pool Karaoke is a seg­ment hosted by James, where he drives celebri­ties and they sing to­gether to songs play­ing on the car stereo. He has hosted some of the world’s most fa­mous singers in the seg­ment, in­clud­ing Adele, Rod Ste­wart and Mariah Carey.

Through her TV ap­pear­ances (such as danc­ing with Jimmy Fal­lon and Ellen) and her prow­ess in con­nect­ing with peo­ple through so­cial me­dia, the funny, cool and charm­ing First Lady

Left: Michelle dressed in Demo­cratic blue for the party’s 2016 con­ven­tion in July, where she de­liv­ered her pow­er­ful ad­dress in support of Hil­lary Clin­ton.

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