April 17, 2010
Reading David Remnick's biography of Barack Obama, The Bridge, I was struck by the contrast between the hosannas offered up by whites after meeting Obama and the more balanced evaluations of blacks who knew him better. Most notably, the President's own wife Michelle has repeatedly tried to explain to worshipful journalists that he's not all that.
On second thought, Michelle's opinion may not be quite fair to Barack since she may have exceptionally high standards in just how charismatic a Presidential candidate is supposed to be. After all, as teen, she worked as a babysitter for a neighborhood man who was much more handsome than Barack, much more eloquent, a much snazzier dresser, and who ran for President twice as much: Jesse Jackson. (The Rev.'s daughter Santita Jackson became Michelle's friend and godmother of one of their children.)
Michelle's personal ties to the Jackson dynasty may have helped her in her educational, legal, and political career, and probably didn't exactly work against her in attracting the interest of a hugely ambitious young politician named Barack Obama.