Can Michelle Obama's Media Blitz Erase Her 'Angry Black Woman' Image?

While the GOP is preoccupied with selecting a candidate to oppose incumbent Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama is working hard to erase her image as an "angry Black woman" and promote her husband's re-election campaign along the way. While she is hoping that a series of television appearances will cement the unmarried mom and single women's vote for her husband, she is also obviously trying to re-sculpt her image into that of a pro-America, pro-military and patriotic mom who is fun-loving and pleasant to be around.  This last week, she has consistently been smiling and showing a positively treacly can-do spirit, appearing everywhere on daytime television and late night television talk shows. All this has been done under the guise of promoting her exercise and healthy eating campaigns on programs like Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Rachael Ray, and Jimmy Fallon.  

In this election year, though, there is a whole lot more going on "under the radar." While still widely admired, Mrs. Obama has come under considerable criticism for her "angry Black woman" attitudes and her comments revealing, shall we say, a lack of enthusiasm about America and conveying an unseemly attitude of superiority toward mainstream Americans. Something had to be done before the fall election.  Single women and unmarried mothers were an important voting block for the president in the 2008 election, but they show whiffs of disaffection with the president in the run-up to 2012.  Even Oprah, who was a prominent supporter in 2008, has stayed pretty much in the background thus far in the 2012 campaign, though she has reiterated her support for the president.  So, Mrs. Obama's uncontroversial issues of good nutrition and exercise provide her with a wonderful excuse to go on television to show her "softer" self to audiences that are predominantly women.

Mrs. Obama's campaign to win back the women's vote through television appearances fits perfectly with the typical liberal view (as described by Clarice Feldman in her recent American Thinker article) that women voters are a "unified bloc of 'feelers' rather than 'thinkers' who can be easily swayed by emotional appeals."  So, there was Michelle cavorting with other celebrities on various shows watched by women.  She engaged in sack racing, dodge ball and push-up competitions with Jimmy Fallon.  Not only did she show her physical prowess, she subtly conveyed patriotism when pictures of her in a tug-of-war with Fallon peppered the Internet along with her red, white, and blue ribbon for winning three out of five races on the television show.

On the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Mrs. Obama's official portrait hung prominently in the background, showing her oft-noted buff arms in a sleeveless dress.  In a spirit of friendly and fun competition, Ellen challenged Michelle to a push-up contest.  Ellen, of course, stopped before Mrs. Obama, which prompted Michelle to also stop, even though she declared -- with vigor -- that she could have gone on much longer.  The two celebrities discussed Michelle's daily workout, which she asserts runs a full 90 minutes every day ... just like that of the average American mother ... not.

Her appearance with Jay Leno was widely quoted, since he is well known for disdaining fruits and vegetables.  Michelle plugged her soon-to-be-published book, American Grown, (timed to come out just before the election), which describes her well-publicized kitchen garden where she grows vegetables for the White House kitchen.  Mama Michelle urged Leno, and the listening audience, to try apple slices and veggie pizza. Under Jay's probing, Michelle confessed that her mother and daughters baked a red velvet birthday cake for her in the White House kitchen, but that this high sugar, high fat treat was fine because it was a "special treat" for her birthday.  For good measure, Mrs. Obama followed her husband's recent example and served up some "evangelical lingo," saying that it is a "blessing" to live in the White House.  She also praised GOP candidate Mitt Romney's singing of "America the Beautiful," calling it "America's song."

On Rachael Ray's cooking show, she gushed about having the "greatest job in the world" (designed to counteract earlier suggestions that she didn't really like having to live up to the expectations of the American public).  She did admit that she misses -- are you ready for this -- her shopping trips to Target.  She declined to discuss her teen daughter's social life, but she described the president as trying to be "cool" while "freaking out" about his older daughter, Malia, growing up.  She also told Rachael Ray that the family loves sports activities together and that the president helps to coach Sasha's basketball team (when he can fit it in between his trips to the golf course, I guess).

Mrs. Obama's media campaign included a stop on the teen hit show, iCarly, which very conveniently featured an episode about Carly's dad being deployed abroad and unable to come home.  Impressive, eh?  Can't think of a better way for her to show the Obamas' commitment to military families and Michelle's admiration for those who serve in the military, can you?  And lest we forget her signature cause célèbre, Michelle pointedly reminded her celebrity hosts that she is pushing a healthy-eating initiative for the military because it is, you know, "a national security issue."  Good show, Michelle, good show.­­­

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is a spokeswoman for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.