FROM STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
First Lady Michelle Obama’s popularity is on par with that of Barbara Bush (73 percent) and Laura Bush (66 percent) during their husband’s re-election campaigns. And it surpasses Hillary Clinton’s 47 percent approval rating in 1996.
Mrs. Obama’s 69 percent approval rating is unchanged from earlier this year.
And that number isn’t the best she’s seen. Her favorability ratings hit 76 percent in March 2009.
As first lady, she has pursued a relatively controversy-free agenda aimed at reducing childhood obesity and supporting military families. Those initiatives have made her a staple of daytime television and late-night television to boost her projects and her husband’s campaign.
But for African-American women and for many Blacks and women in general, the numbers don’t define her impact.
“I still pinch myself every time I see her. I still well up with tears every time she walks into a room. I stand taller, with a smile, every time she delivers a passionate speech about her deep love for her country or her commitment to the families of our military,’’ says Sophia A. Nelson, author of “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama.’’
Warm and bold
Nelson says Mrs. Obama has “effortlessly destroyed harsh stereotypes about who Black women are, and made us something we rarely ever get to be in public: feminine, soft, vulnerable, loving, warm, proud, compassionate, smart, affirmed, dynamic, bold, reflective, humble, and fun all at once.
“As first lady of the United States, she represents everyone. She did not have to mention race, nor need to: Her very essence reminds us that she is a powerful, brilliant Black woman. What is a game changer for America is that this country, with all of its challenges and “isms,” embraces her as its first lady.
“Television pundits have called her the most popular woman in America. Americans do not define her as the fist-bumping, machine gun-toting, Afro-wearing angry Black woman she was once portrayed as in 2008.’’
Added Nelson, “Michelle Obama has changed the game for women of color, and redefined what is possible for Black women.’’