Gag me - Press goes ga-ga over Michelle

Is Michelle Obama the second coming of Jackie Kennedy?

That seems to be a common theme among a press that has gone  over the top with their coverage of the First Lady. Howard Kurtz noticed:

President Obama may be grappling with a global economic crisis and Russian arms control, but his wife has clearly stolen the show.

The Michelle gush-a-thon is growing louder by the day. To be sure, she is a fascinating first lady with a 76 percent approval rating in this week's Washington Post-ABC News poll. And presidents' wives tend to get softer coverage, at least when they're not put in charge of health-care reform. If they're dealing with swing sets and china, instead of swing districts and China, they generally hover above the fray.

But this first lady has generated endless media chatter about everything from her sleeveless dresses to her vegetable garden, which landed on the front page of the New York Times. And she has a disarming candor, telling the Times that she doesn't like her husband questioning her about her clothes: "It's like, Why don't you mind your own business? Solve world hunger. Get out of my closet.''

But this week's coverage has an over-the-top feel. If we didn't know Obama flew abroad on Air Force One, we might suspect she had walked across the Atlantic. The European trip has boosted her to an even more rarefied zone, with pundits debating whether she was wrong to have breached protocol by throwing an arm lightly around Queen Elizabeth II.

"I find it odd that President Obama goes to Europe and all the reporting I'm hearing is about how Michelle looks in J.Crew," says Eric Deggans, media critic for the St. Petersburg Times. "I feel like I'm drowning in it." For American reporters, he says, "if she's wowing the British press, that's the story. Don't tell me how cool you think she is."

Michelle Obama appears on the surface to be a good person, a good mother who obviously loves her children, a smart, ambitious, hard charger who appears to have a fascinating relationship with her husband - at times pushing him and other times playing the role of politicians wife who stands in the background.

But she is ordinary, common, colloquial in tone and somewhat banal when she speaks. Jackie Kennedy had more class and grace in her little finger than Michelle Obama could ever hope to aspire.

Of course, Mrs. Kennedy was bred for high society. The Bouviers had a great name but no money thanks to her profligate father "Blackjack" Bouvier, a rakish rogue who nevertheless saw that his daughters were trained in all the manners and mores of the elites. Beyond that, Jackie appeared to be the only woman who could hold the attention of John Kennedy for any length of time. Friends remarked that the juvenile Kennedy's eyes would follow her wherever she went in a room, so much a mystery to him she was.

Different times than the 1960's to be sure. But class and grace are timeless and Michelle Obama is in some ways the antithesis of Jackie Kennedy. But our media, slobbering all over her to make the celebrity's wife into a celebrity herself, have succeeded in outdoing themselves in looking ridiculous.