‘We went to counselling’: Obama
Former first lady Michelle Obama blasts 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 Mr 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 for release on Wednesday, Ms 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 realise that she was more “in charge” of her happiness than she had realised.
“This was my pivot point. My moment of self-arrest.”
She assumed Mr 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”.
Her body “buzzed with fury” after hearing the Access Hollywood tape, in which Mr Trump brags about sexually assaulting women. She also accuses Mr Trump of using body language to “stalk” Mrs Clinton during a debate. She writes of Mr Trump following Mrs Clinton around the stage, standing nearby and “trying to diminish her presence”. His message in words that appear in the book in darkened print: “I can hurt you and get away with it.”
Mrs Obama has offered few extensive comments on her White House years.
In Becoming, she 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; she was initially his adviser. Secretaries claimed he was both brilliant and “cute”, although Mrs Obama was sceptical, 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 agonised over what she feared was a cartoonish, racist image. She remembered being labelled “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. 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 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 favourite chant: “Am I good enough? Yes I am.”