Obama's Soft Spot for Strong Women

How the ultimate Washington power couple will knock your nuclear socks off.

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By Jamie Stiehm, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

An Imaginary Conversation over Breakfast This Week--in American and English

James: Holmes, I say, my hypothesis was confirmed when I just read in The Washington Post that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of President Barack Obama's favorite heads of state in the entire world. He had to greet, wine, dine, and work the magic on dozens--but he gave her a welcome kiss on both cheeks to say hello at the Nuclear Security Summit.


Sherlock: Enchantee, as they say en francais. German's not my cup of tea in the morning.

James: The day before, also in the Post , there was a front page picture of Obama with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton striding from the White House to Blair House and man, there they were, on the same page, like they'd never been at each other's throats running for president. They radiated sparks and strength, like hey: Watch out, world! The ultimate Washington power couple is coming at you now to knock your nuclear socks off. Hillary had that no-nonsense look in her eye and you know the president really likes to see that fire in a strong woman.

Sherlock: Do you mean to say that the president of the United States has got a soft spot for a strong woman?
James: By George, that's just what I mean to say. What an elegant formulation. Mine is slightly less so: "He's Got the Hots for the Smarts." Catchy little song, mixes up Proust and Porgy and Bess and Chess. Richard Thompson, the lyricist, was prescient.


Sherlock: I suggest you investigate more thoroughly.

James: Well, there's the tall bright beautiful lawyer he married. Michelle Robinson from the South Side of Chicago.

Sherlock: Didn't her father think Obama was a bit on the soft side when they met?

James: Yes, he did think so. I'm not saying he's weak, but she is strong. Stronger than any Englishman.

Sherlock: Excussez-moi?

James: I meant to say, stronger than the Englishmen in Jane Austen. Except Captain Wentworth.

Sherlock: Are we quite done? Or are you going to get to the most instructive clue of all?

James: But of course. You mean the mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

Sherlock: Exactly, The anthropologist, the world-wanderer, the dreamer who helped Third World women with their lot. Much depends on her. A man's mother is the mouth of the river. Their relationship predicts the rest. You don't need me to tell you that. You could read it first in your own Post . Let's see, where's my Blackberry? Here we are.

James: "None was deeper, more complex and more important than that with his mother..." Of all Obama's relationships, that was the one that mattered the most. David Maraniss. 2008.

Sherlock: Yes, that David. Jolly good. Dreams From My Father takes you on a mystery tour, but beware of it misleading you like the fog outside. What else can I clear up before breakfast at Baker Street is over?

James: It all starts with Stanley, marrying Michelle, appointing Hillary, and then kissing Angela.

Sherlock: Elementary, a kiss on both cheeks. Who says a kiss is just a kiss?

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