Barack and Michelle Obama: The Full Interview

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Michelle's Role

Michelle Obama: No, because I think it's a unit that raises a child. As far as I'm concerned in this couple, Barack is the person who has the skill, the inclination, the desire, the ability, to be in politics. I have no desire. So that's a good thing, in my view, since someone has to be focusing on the kids -- and that's me. But it could easily be him. There's no reason why the nurturing has to come from Mom -- it just has to be there. In our case, Dad has been on the road since our kids have been born, and we treat that as a normal thing. They understand his schedule. Therefore, they thrive because we're happy about it. And if Mom is president, that's cool, as long as Dad or someone is going to their baseball games, is listening to their stories and their issues. There's got to be someone in a kid's life who makes them feel central.

Barack Obama: There are a whole lot of models that can work. But that requires, of course, men to understand what's involved. The more we can educate men on the burdens that women have been carrying for a long time, the more prepared they will be to share those burdens.

Michelle Obama: It sort of gets back to the power of the women. Finding balance has been the struggle of my life and my marriage, in being a woman, being a professional, being a mother. And Barack has to find that balance, too, as part of the family. What women have the power to do, through our own experiences, is to push that balance out into the culture. If people are happier, and they're more engaged, and they have jobs they can value that allow them to respect and value their homes, that makes the home life stronger.

LHJ: Senator, could you see yourself giving your wife a policy position in your administration?

Michelle Obama: [whispering] Say no, say no.

Barack Obama: Well, look. Michelle is one of the smartest people I know. She is my chief counsel and advisor. I would never make big decisions without asking her opinion. Certainly about my career and my life. My sense is -- and I'll let her speak for herself here -- that she'd probably be more interested in having a set of projects that were driven by her interests and her desires, as opposed to me handing her some sort of portfolio, and saying, "Here. Do this."

LHJ: So, Mrs. Obama, not hoping for head of Health and Human Services, for instance?

Michelle Obama: Not really, no. No. You know, we just love our kids, like all parents. They break our hearts. And they have been so good about this process, and patient, and understanding. Kids will adjust to anything you throw at them. Our job is to not keep asking so much of them that they crack under the pressure. And if Barack is fortunate enough to serve this country as president, we will be honored. But it will be a hard transition for those little girls. They'll be going on 11 and 8. They'll be leaving the only home that they've known. Someone's got to be the steward of that transition. And it can't be the President of the United States. It will be me.

There are a ton of issues that I care deeply about. But the notion of sitting around the table with a set of policy advisors -- no offense -- makes me yawn. [Laughter] I like creating stuff. I'd love to be working with young people. I'd love to be having more conversations with military spouses. I've learned not to let other people push you into something that fundamentally isn't you. Fortunately, my husband respects that, and would never --

Barack Obama: Please, I can't get her to do something she doesn't want to. [Laughter]

Continued on page 4:  Can This Marriage Be Saved?

 

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