Monday, July 25, 2011

Michelle Obama Cover Feature, AARP Magazine

Excerpts: First Lady talks about the Osama bin Laden raid, Joining Forces, her future in politics, The Dougie...
Following this month's historic cover feature in Better Homes and Gardens, First Lady Michelle Obama has another magazine cover feature, this one for a crucial voting segment for Election 2012: She's featured in the September/October issue of AARP The Magazine, available now, in print and online.

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden give a wide-ranging co-interview, titled "Moms on a Mission," which focuses primarily on their Joining Forces campaign to support military families. Plenty of other subjects are touched on too, including the possibility of their future careers as politicians, life in the White House, one historic dining excursion, and doing "The Dougie." (Above: This photo of Dr. Biden and the First Lady accompanies the interview)

First Lady was out to dinner during the President's bin Laden operation...
The exclusive interview was conducted at the White House just five days after US Navy SEALS raided terrorist Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. Mrs. Obama reveals that she was "out to dinner with girlfriends" on May 1, the evening that President Obama announced to the world, in a late-night address from the East Room. that bin Laden had been killed. She knew little of the operation being conducted by SEAL Team Six, Mrs. Obama said:

I knew something was happening, but when it gets down to that level of secrecy, there's just a small number of people who know anything.

I was actually out to dinner with girlfriends, and I didn't know until I walked in the door. It was later in the evening, and Barack had his suit on, because he was going to the press conference.

And I said, "What's going on?"
I was, like, "Wow." Then I wanted to know the details: "How did it happen? Then what? And then what happened?" I was probably like every media person.

The President sat down and explained things to her, Mrs. Obama says. And she in turn explained things to daughter Malia, then 12, because noisy crowds were beginning to gather outside the White House.

Where was Mrs. Obama dining on that historic night? That's one excursion that didn't get into the public record, and Mrs. Obama doesn't say in the AARP interview--and she may not remember, anyway. In May, during a service event with Congressional spouses at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Obama was overheard telling a Senator's wife that she rarely remembers where she's eaten in DC, because she and the President are always being whisked in and out of eateries through back and side doors.

“I’m like, ‘did I eat here before?’ When I go in a different door, it’s like, I don’t know, I’ve never been there," Mrs. Obama said, adding that she realizes she's visited a restaurant only if staff welcome her back. Usually, the First Lady finds out where she's eaten from media reports, she said.

“The papers know--they always know,” Mrs. Obama said. “I always read about myself, what I did.”

The Dougie...
There's no mention of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign during the interview, but she does discuss her dance outing at DC's Alice Deal Middle School, when she joined more than 400 students who were doing pop-star Beyonce's Let's Move Flash Workout, created for the campaign. How long did it take Mrs. Obama to learn the dance routine, especially The Dougie, she's asked:

"Hey, I've got little kids. They're always trying something. And I happen to be very good at dance-mimicking," Mrs. Obama said, and laughed. "For some reason, if I watch somebody do a move for a while, and it's not too hard or complicated or requires me to throw my leg over my head and flip, I can sort of figure it out."

A future in politics?
Asked about her future in politics, Mrs. Obama said "The answer is N-O. Period, dot." Biden also said she has no interest in a future political career.

"I think one reason Jill and I are comfortable and happy is that we're doing what speaks to us. And what I've learned as a woman growing up, getting older, is you've got to know who you are. And a politician--it's never been who I was or wanted to be," Mrs. Obama said.

Tomorrow, Mrs. Obama will make a day trip to Aspen, Colorado, and Park City, Utah, for two high-end fund-raisers with entry fees that range between $1,000 to $35,800. Both events are hosted by Obama bundlers, reports Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet: Mark and Nancy Gilbert in Park City, and in Aspen, about 200 people are expected at the home of Chicagoans Jim and Paula Crown. Jim Crown was Obama's 2008 Illinois co-finance chairman. Mrs. Obama has appeared at nine fundraisers since the 2012 campaign kickoff in April.

More excerpts:
On creating Joining Forces:
MICHELLE OBAMA: "My affinity and passion for military families came out of meeting many of these women while campaigning. Their stories moved me."

"The population that AARP serves has some of the highest numbers of people who volunteer. We've got military families who are in need today, and our Joining Forces call to action is a way to use that wonderful time and energy and direct it toward some of these families."

"People don't have to reinvent themselves. If you live near a base, there are plenty of opportunities, whether it's throwing a baby shower for expectant mothers or doing things at the schools with military kids or offering to drive a car pool. Those things matter."

"Look within your own community. Look within your church, your kids' school. Connect with military families and find out what their needs are."

On being a role model for African- American girls:
MICHELLE OBAMA: "We did an event for military kids, and there were a lot of African American young girls out there--little black girls who were just proud because they see themselves in somebody who they think is great."

On Jill Biden as a role model for aging gracefully:
MICHELLE OBAMA: "Jill gives whatever aging means this level of grace and excitement. She's smart, she's gorgeous, she's accomplished. She has a strong marriage. And the bonds she has built with all of her children are real. She has created a real family in the midst of Washington, D.C. She's managed to maintain that balance and still be down-to-earth."

Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden appeared jointly on the cover of Parade magazine just after the April launch of the Joining Forces initiative.

*Cover and photo via AARP/The Magazine, by Art Streiber

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