Michelle Obama opens up

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD -

Michelle Obama says she felt alone af­ter a mis­car­riage 20 years ago, and she and hus­band Barack Obama un­der­went fer­til­ity treat­ments to con­ceive their two daugh­ters, ac­cord­ing to her up­com­ing mem­oir.

In some of her most ex­ten­sive pub­lic com­ments on her White House years, the for­mer US first lady also lets her fury fly over Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s ‘‘big­otry and xeno­pho­bia’’ – dan­ger­ous, de­lib­er­ate rhetoric, she writes, that risked her fam­ily’s safety.

‘‘For this,’’ she never for­give him.’’

But it is her deeply per­sonal ac­count of her mar­riage to the fu­ture pres­i­dent that sheds new light on the Ivy League-ed­u­cated cou­ple’s early struggle with is­sues of fam­ily, am­bi­tion and pub­lic life.

‘‘We were try­ing to get preg­nant and it wasn’t go­ing well,’’ Obama, 54, writes in due for re­lease on Wed­nes­day. ‘‘We had one preg­nancy test come back pos­i­tive, which caused us both to for­get every worry and swoon with joy, but a cou­ple of weeks later I had a mis­car­riage, which left me phys­i­cally un­com­fort­able and cratered any op­ti­mism we felt.’’

The Oba­mas opted for in-vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion. Michelle Obama writes of be­ing alone to ad­min­is­ter her­self shots to help has­ten the process. Her ‘‘sweet, at­ten­tive hus­band’’ was at the state leg­is­la­ture, ‘‘leav­ing me largely on my own to ma­nip­u­late my re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem into peak ef­fi­ciency’’ writes, ‘‘I’d

is one of the most an­tic­i­pated po­lit­i­cal books in re­cent years, rank­ing at the top of Ama­zon’s best-seller list yes­ter­day. That’s of­ten the case with the mem­oirs of for­mer first ladies. But Obama de­fied her ex­alted sta­tus by cul­ti­vat­ing an im­age of a mod­ern woman with whom many Amer­i­cans would like to sip wine and chat.

‘‘I felt like I failed, be­cause I didn’t know how com­mon mis­car­riages were, be­cause we don’t talk about them,’’ the for­mer first lady said in an in­ter­view broad­cast on ABC’s

‘‘We sit in our own pain, think­ing that some­how we’re bro­ken.’’

She said the cou­ple un­der­went fer­til­i­sa­tion treat­ments to con­ceive daugh­ters Sasha and Malia, now 17 and 20.

She also writes about fall­ing in love. The Oba­mas met at Chicago law firm Si­d­ley Austin LLP, and Michelle was scep­ti­cal at first. But she was then impressed by his ‘‘rich, even sexy bari­tone’’ and by his ‘‘strange, stir­ring com­bi­na­tion’’ of seren­ity and power.

Their first kiss set off a ‘‘top­pling blast of lust, gratitude, ful­fill­ment, won­der’’, she writes.

Con­fronting racism in pub­lic life – be­ing the first black first lady, wife of the na­tion’s first black pres­i­dent – has been a brac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, in Obama’s telling. She re­mem­bers be­ing la­belled ‘‘an­gry’’ and, by the Fox net­work, ‘‘Obama’s Baby Mama’’.

In the White House, she knew she would be la­belled ‘‘other’’ and would have to earn the aura of ‘‘grace’’ given freely to her white pre­de­ces­sors. She found con­fi­dence in re­peat­ing to her­self a fa­vorite chant: ‘‘Am I good enough? Yes, I am.’’

In the mem­oir, Obama lets loose a blast of anger at Trump.

She writes that Trump’s ques­tion­ing of whether her hus­band was an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen was ‘‘crazy and mean-spir­ited’’ – and ‘‘dan­ger­ous.’’ Trump sug­gested Obama was not born in the US but on for­eign soil – his fa­ther was Kenyan. The for­mer pres­i­dent was born in Hawaii.

‘‘What if some­one with an un­sta­ble mind loaded a gun and drove to Wash­ing­ton? What if that per­son went look­ing for our girls?

‘‘Donald Trump, with his loud and reck­less in­nu­en­dos, was putting my fam­ily’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never for­give him.’’

As he left for Paris yes­ter­day, Trump chose not to re­spond to the for­mer first lady, telling re­porters: ‘‘Oh, I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book, and they al­ways in­sisted you come up with con­tro­ver­sial.’’

Trump in­stead changed the sub­ject to his pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, say­ing, ‘‘I’ll never for­give him’’ for mak­ing the coun­try ‘‘very un­safe’’.

Michelle Obama also ex­presses dis­be­lief over how so many women would choose a ‘‘misog­y­nist’’ over Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. She re­mem­bers how her body ‘‘buzzed with fury’’ af­ter see­ing the in­fa­mous

tape in which Trump boasted about sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women.

She also ac­cuses Trump of us­ing body lan­guage to ‘‘stalk’’ Clin­ton dur­ing an elec­tion de­bate, ‘‘try­ing to di­min­ish her pres­ence’’.

Obama will launch her pro­mo­tional tour on Wed­nes­day not at a book­store but at Chicago’s United Cen­tre, where tens of thou­sands of peo­ple have pur­chased tick­ets – from just un­der US$30 to thou­sands of dol­lars – to at­tend the event, which will be mod­er­ated by Oprah Win­frey.

‘‘I felt like I failed, be­cause I didn’t know how com­mon mis­car­riages were.’’


In her new mem­oir, for­mer US first lady Michelle Obama says she will ‘‘never for­give’’ a ‘‘reck­less’’ Donald Trump for putting her fam­ily’s safety at risk by ques­tion­ing whether her hus­band Barack was an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen.

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