First Lady Michelle Obama denies being 'angry black woman' after row over book
Published 11/01/2012 | 16:53
MICHELLE Obama has denied that she was "some angry black woman", in an attempt to defuse a row over an explosive new book that alleges she clashed with her husband’s White House advisers.
In a rare breakfast television appearance, the US First Lady played down reports that she had caused disputes with Barack Obama’s chief of staff and press secretary over his presidential agenda.
She said that while relations were harmonious between her and Mr Obama’s inner circle — which is widely described as dysfunctional — it was “more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation”.
“That’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced,” she said in an interview with CBS News. “That I’m some angry black woman.”
In 'The Obamas’, which was released this week, author Jodi Kantor writes that Mrs Obama collided with Rahm Emanuel, the then-White House chief of staff, over her husband’s overhaul of health care.
With Mr Emanuel forced to frantically cut back-room deals to pass the landmark legislation through Congress in 2009, Mr Obama reportedly told aides that his wife “feels as if our rudder isn’t set right”.
Miss Kantor, a New York Times reporter, writes that Mr Emanuel reacted “with indignation” and let it be known to the media that he was unhappy with how the health care effort was being handled.
Robert Gibbs, Mr Obama’s then-press secretary, allegedly “cursed” Mrs Obama after she passed on criticisms of his response to reports that she had told Carla Bruni, wife of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, that living in the White House was “hell”.
Mrs Obama is also portrayed as being reluctant to campaign in public for her husband, who suffered what he called a “shellacking” in the midterm Congressional elections in November 2010.
In her interview she admitted to being “one of his biggest confidantes” but said that “he has dozens of really smart people who surround him”.
“I am not an expert on most of the issues that he’s dealing with on a daily basis,” she said. “I want him — and he wants — to be talking to the people with the best information.
“That’s not to say that we don’t have discussions and conversations,” she added. “That’s not to say that my husband doesn’t know how I feel.”