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June 26th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

What's the right role for Michelle Obama?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

First Lady Michelle Obama has said her primary role in the White House will be 'Mom-in-Chief' to her young daughters, Sasha and Malia. But lately Mrs. Obama has been expressing an interest in taking on more.

The Washington Post reports Mrs. Obama has been telling her staff and close friends for weeks that she isn't having the impact she wants. Earlier this month, she hired a new chief of staff and got rid of the old one. She's brought on a full-time speech writer, and told her staff she wants to have a "message" at speaking events. In other words, she doesn't just want to shake hands and kiss babies.

Her new chief of staff told the Washington Post, "It isn't just about hugging. Whatever she talks about will bring press and interest, but it's important that she's not just talking [but] actually moving forward on those issues."

Those issues will likely go beyond aiding military families, a cause she has taken on since the campaign trail. In recent weeks, she's been talking up the president's health plan as well. Michelle Obama has commanded more attention accidentally than previous first ladies did on purpose.

Her ability to communicate seems effortless and she comes across as down to earth and genuine. All qualities in short supply in our nation's capital.

Here’s my question to you: What's the right role for Michelle Obama?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

June 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should taxpayer money cover Obamas' NYC date night?

ALT TEXT

Patrons at a restaurant across from the Belasco Theater peer out of the windows at the theater where the President and First Lady attended a show Saturday in Manhattan. (PHOTO CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama made good on a campaign promise Saturday night... by taking his wife on a date to New York City.

The president says he promised his wife he would "take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."

Mr. Obama and the First Lady flew from Washington to New York on a Gulfstream jet, then took a helicopter from the Marine One fleet from JFK airport into Manhattan. The first couple dined in the Village and then headed to Times Square, where they saw "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" - a show about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery.

New Yorkers seemed to love it all, with crowds eight-deep in places, but critics are accusing the president of insensitivity. The Republican National Committee says as the president prepared to "wing into Manhattan's theater district," GM prepared to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills. They added that if President Obama wanted to go to the theater... why wasn't the presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?

The president paid for dinner and the show tickets, but the rest of the bill will land on the taxpayers; and The White House hasn't said yet how much that is. They cited fuel efficiency - saying instead of taking the larger Air Force One, the president and first lady took a smaller plane. There were two other planes carrying media and staff.

Here’s my question to you: Should taxpayers pick up the bill for the Obamas' date night in New York?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

April 2nd, 2009
06:00 PM ET

What's behind Michelle Obama's surge in popularity?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

First Lady Michelle Obama is even more popular than her husband, who has a hefty majority of Americans supporting him. A new Gallup poll show's the first lady's favorable rating at 72 percent compared to 69 percent for the president.

Cafferty: People are drawn to this woman.

Also, Michelle Obama's unfavorable ratings are much lower than the president's - 17 percent for her versus 28 percent for him.

What a difference a year makes... On the campaign trail last winter and spring, Michelle Obama was at times considered a political liability. Some portrayed her as an "angry black woman," while others didn't like the way she talked about things like her husband's dirty socks. And many questioned Michelle's patriotism when she said she only recently became proud of her country.

But all that has changed... Another recent poll shows the first lady's favorability ratings are up 28 percent since the summer. The most striking part of the Michelle "surge" is that she's made the biggest gains among Republicans who viewed her negatively last year.

People are drawn to this woman; she is the real thing, and they get it. They like her focus on children and family, her devotion to her own daughters and husband, her visits to schools, soup kitchens, federal agencies, and her planting of the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt.

Michelle Obama is rapidly moving to displace a couple of the more revered women of our recent past. The British media are positively beside themsevles over Mrs. Obama's visit; and they know something about how to get beside themselves. They are comparing our new first lady to both Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy. Actually, she's cooler than either of them.

Here's my question to you: What's behind Michelle Obama's remarkable surge in popularity?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

January 21st, 2009
05:01 PM ET

Obama Inaugural Parade Walk: Brave or Foolish?

ALT TEXT US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle wave to supporters as they walk along Pennsylvania Ave during the parade following his inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. (PHOTO CREDIT:ROBYN BECK/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Most of them want to do it. Presidents during the inaugural parade often like to be outside the confines of their bulletproof, bomb proof, everything-proof limousine the Secret Service lovingly calls "The Beast."

It gives them a chance to get closer to the people, who in many cases, have traveled far and endured a certain amount of hardship for the slight chance they'll get to see the President, up close and personal.

Jimmy Carter was the first to do this in 1977.

When the nation's new first couple exited the car yesterday, people began screaming and cheering along the parade route. It was like Elvis had suddenly appeared in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.

And while the Obamas appeared relaxed and enjoyed the interaction with the crowd, don't kid yourself. For the Secret Service, it was a very tense time. When he's exposed like that, they can't guarantee his safety.

You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when our new President decided to return to the safety of the presidential limousine.

Barack Obama lives inside the Presidential bubble now, and he doesn't have the freedom he enjoyed prior to noon yesterday when he became the leader of the free world.

Here’s my question to you: Was it brave or foolish for President Obama to leave the limo and walk several blocks during the inaugural parade?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST