Hillary and Michelle: Different Race, Same Gender

Last week found Michelle Obama attempting to re-introduce herself to the American public with a New York Times article as well as an appearance on The View. The Times article presented Obama as an accomplished lawyer, mother and civil rights crusader and ended with her saying that she would "walk anyone through her life." If I was concerned about Barack shying away from telling the story of those he helped organize on the South Side of Chicago, I was reassured by this article that the person, whom he has called "the heart and soul" of his campaign, could not avoid these narratives because they are her own.The Times article also brought back memories of another accomplished future-First Lady, and so I dug up this 1992 article on Hillary Clinton, which made me think that this former rival might have some advice for Mrs. Obama, as she attempts to navigate the apparently obligatory trip from equal working partner to White House-wife. Yet, these two articles left me hopeful that our political sphere had indeed progressed in the last 16 years. While the article on Hillary focused mainly on her need to soften her image and, to that end, gave little by way of resume, the treatment of Mrs. Obama showed no reluctance in touting her impressive stats. Aside from one dismissive comment by Sen. Claire McCaskill, who said, "All she has to do is be likeable," I was encouraged by Mrs. Obama's determination to pick up where Hillary had left off and use her expertise to be an even more visible asset to Barack's presidential bid.Of course, the View appearance hit all of the hackneyed sound bytes one has come to expect from a prospective First Lady-favorable references to the current First Lady, what-not-to-wear tips, hair and make-up woes, etc. With all of her accomplishments, I was left wondering if she would rather be fielding questions on heathcare, afterall she is an administrator for a major Chicago hospital, than talking about whether her husband still takes out the trash. I suppose she'll have to wait until her own presidential campaign. Maybe then we'll finally be able to listen to a woman who knows more than we do.

Eric Bugyis teaches Religious Studies at the University of Washington Tacoma.

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