Could Ms. Obama be the next president?

Autobiography "Becoming" : Michelle Obama - the President of Hearts

About 25 minutes have passed, then Michelle Obama pauses in her speech. She just said how important it is to motivate others to go out and find people. Somebody shouts something in between and it gets loud in the sports hall. The crowd begins to clap, howl and screech. On stage Michelle has to grin, she then starts several times: "You know, we need you guys". And in the audience they keep shouting: "We need you, we need you!" She laughs: "You stop the nonsense now."

Campaign for midterms at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas. Michelle Obama speaks of the obligation to vote in order to take your own fate in hand, of the importance of not being intimidated, but of making your own voice heard, of getting involved. That sometimes there are only 50 votes in a constituency who decide who will be the next president, the next senator, the next MP. And then she says: "If we all go to vote, imagine which leader we could choose!"

She has ruled out several times that Michelle Obama, born as Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, First Lady from 2009 to 2017, will one day run as the Democratic presidential candidate herself. And yet it's worth a headline every time she repeats just that.

Which type of American is suitable for the next president?

To understand why the 54-year-old ex-first lady embodies the object of such longings, one has to consider the state of the opposition in the United States. To this day, many do not understand that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in 2016, least of all the former presidential candidate herself. And when it comes to the question of who could challenge the incumbent president in the next election, which is due in 24 months, who has already declared to run again, political Washington is currently facing great perplexity.

Too early, it was said for a long time, a candidate would only emerge after the midterms, the result would show which type was successful and it can be in two years. Woman, man, progressive and left-wing or moderate and business-friendly, from the big cities on the coast or someone from the country or from the suburbs of the metropolitan areas.

Now the midterms are over, the perplexity has remained. The elections did not paint a clear picture. On the contrary. There are radiant shooting stars like New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who easily got her seat in parliament, but is considered far too left-wing by many. And there are disappointed hopes like the Texan Beto O’Rourke, who did not manage to conquer the Senate seat from Ted Cruz, but who is still expected to do great things.

"An intimate conversation with Michelle Obama"

On the other hand, there are the veterans like Barack Obama's former Vice President Joe Biden, who, despite his 75 years of age, many trust that he will be nominated by the Democratic Party if he only runs, or the billionaire and former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. Experienced senators like Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren are also interested. But it is still completely unclear who the party could agree on, and above all who would have what strategy in hand to beat Donald Trump.

And now, a week after that election, which did not provide any clarity, Michelle Obama's autobiography is coming out this Tuesday. It appears in several languages, and it is already clear that it will be an international bestseller. In twelve major events, which are curiously touted as "An intimate conversation with Michelle Obama", she will present her book with celebrities like Oprah Winfrey or Reese Witherspoon for a month, and she goes on tour like a rock star.

Cards for her reading were gone within seconds

On this Saturday, for example, she is performing with her husband's former advisor Valerie Jarrett in the Capital One Arena in Washington, the tickets were selling rapidly, those for $ 29.50 were given out within seconds, on Sunday there were only eight tickets left for more than $ 600. Those who dig deep into their pockets could also buy a ticket in the first rows for around $ 3,000, which includes a selfie option with Michelle and a signed copy of the book before the start of the event. The 20,000-seat stadium in the capital, home of the first division ice hockey team Washington Capitols, will be filled to the last ranks.

Parts of the content reached the public even before the official publication date, as is usually the case with highly anticipated politically explosive books. A politically explosive book by a former first lady?

The book is about Michelle Obama, not her husband

"Becoming" is the title of the autobiography, which can be translated somewhat awkwardly as "becoming". In the German edition, the English original title is accompanied by the addition "My story". The reader should understand at first glance: It is her book, it is about her and once not about her husband. After many years at the side of a successful professional politician, it is the first time that Michelle Obama can pursue her own goals, independently of the rest of her family, the daughters are self-employed. "And here I am", she writes, "in this new place, and I have a lot to say."

What she has to say is newsworthy. Michelle Obama describes in "Becoming" how she became the woman who is trusted today to become the first woman president. She describes how her childhood in the 1960s shaped her life. Born in the south of Chicago, an area that was mostly home to Afro-Americans at the time, she grew up as a working class daughter, her father repairs boilers, and her mother earns money as a secretary as soon as Michelle and her brother Craig start school. "We were poor," said Michelle Obama in her last double interview with her husband in the White House. But her parents Fraser and Marian Robinson value a good education so that the children have a better life, a life motto that Michelle likes to quote.

Politics is not for them

She studied sociology at the elite Princeton University, where she first really became aware of what it means to be black, and then law at Harvard. After graduating in 1988, she worked as a lawyer at Sidley Austin in Chicago, where she was soon supposed to mentor a young intern named Barack Obama. In 1991 she accepted a position in the Chicago City Council under Mayor Richard M. Daley. A year later she married Barack. At the side of her husband, she must learn to reconcile family life and politics and become a public figure, always exposed to the limelight of public criticism. All of this strengthens her stance that politics is not for her.

“I'm saying it straight away: I have no intention of ever running for political office. I've never been a fan of politics, and my experiences over the past ten years haven't changed that, ”says Becoming. Back in November 2000, when her husband lost the race for a seat in Congress, she said the only thing she had fun in the campaign was getting inspiration for her interior design from other people's living rooms.

The rights of women are important to her

And yet, there is the other Michelle too. Make injustices angry and make no secret of them. The Michelle who is passionate about the rights of women and girls, or who urges them to vote. There she stands on the stage, tall and strong, perfectly styled, black 7/8 trousers, white T-shirt, long, dark hair blown elegantly, large silver earrings. Michelle Obama is still a fashion icon, an idol for many women, and not just for African American women.

The special thing about her has always been that you can read all the feelings on her face, the anger or the joy, the enthusiasm. What you never see is indifference. Her laugh is loud and contagious, and when you feel like it, she sticks out her tongue. She suffers from the political situation in her country, from the division in society and from the racism that has become evident. The fact that she addresses this so clearly and also names the culprits is new.

Michelle Obama attacks Donald Trump directly

In her book, she attacks Donald Trump directly and criticizes him for spreading the conspiracy theory that Barack was not born an American and therefore was not a legitimate president. “This whole thing was crazy and vicious, the underlying prejudice and xenophobia barely disguised. But it was also dangerous, ”writes Michelle. She worried about the safety of her family. “What if someone who was mentally unstable loaded a gun and headed to Washington? What if that person went to find our girls? Donald Trump endangered my family's safety with his loud and irresponsible allegations. And I'll never forgive him for that. "

Michelle Obama did not produce a political indictment, but a description of her life with all its difficulties. And she does it surprisingly openly. For example, when she talks about how they decided to use artificial insemination after a traumatic miscarriage. And that they sometimes had to hire a marriage counselor. We are not perfect either, is the message. But you can overcome difficulties.

A woman everyone wants to be friends with

Michelle Obama's greatest fans see nothing less than perfection in her. The author Veronica Chambers writes in the anthology "The Meaning of Michelle", edited by her, about the fact that Michelle Obama, as the first black first lady, changed everything for women like her. She is a woman who is so authentic and so in tune with herself, “feels good in her skin”, that she is a huge role model. She is the woman everyone wants to be friends with.

The portraits of all previous presidents hang on the second floor of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. They are a crowd puller, the Americans love to admire their former heads of state, there is usually a selfie hunter queue in front of Barack Obama's picture. More portraits hang one floor higher, including the spectacular one of Michelle Obama in the sleeveless black and white dress. If the impression is not deceptive, hardly fewer people want a photo with her; they want to be close to the first African-American first lady, whom so many hope will one day become the first female president of the United States.

Michelle Obama: “Becoming. My story". Goldmann, 544 pages, 26 euros.

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