Getting to Know the Real Obamas

There's no election in sight, so we'll be getting to know the president and first lady much better.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama ride in the inaugural parade in Washington on Jan. 21, 2013.

Michelle Obama let her hair down with a heckler and I am not over that yet.

Meanwhile, Hubby is turning America into the former East Germany and will bequeath to the next president an enormous state-spying "security" and surveillance apparatus.

A dubious distinction: a "change" presidential contender, Barack Obama, will be the president who changed privacy as we know it. Our Internet and telephone records are apparently now fair game for the federal government. Something we were never told; they didn't write, they didn't call. And the president made no apologies. I'm not over that yet either.

This all happened in the first seven days of June. The opaque Obamas showed more of their true selves in June than we have seen before. Their healthy approval ratings can probably take the heat for now, but get ready for a long hot summer in Washington.

[See pictures of Michelle Obama.]

Let's take Mrs. Obama first. Wearing a sleeveless dress, as is her wont, she confronted a heckler at a Democratic fundraiser in an un-first ladylike way. First she said in a clenched voice, "This is one of the things I don't do well." So, I suppose, don't dare challenge her. Second, she approached the 56-year-old woman who spoke out, looming, and said, "Listen to me or you can take the mic." Third, Mrs. Obama theatrically declared she was out the door: "I'm leaving." She added: "You have one choice." All I know is, I wouldn't want her mad at me.

The former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was heckled here in Washington last week and showed how it's done. "That's nothing compared to the Israeli Knesset," he said disarmingly. There is an art to handling hecklers with a touch of class.

The first lady stayed in the end, but cast a damper on the image she has manufactured in the White House. The early June scene broke loose from the carefully tended "mother, wife, daughter, sister" presentation. There is more to her than we know, but she has chosen the safest causes to champion: military families, childhood obesity and, oh yes, the White House vegetable garden.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Mrs. Obama has held the American public at bay for more than four years, largely by playing her role in a traditional fashion. She broke no molds as first lady, except for crossing the color line. She has not told her own story of rising from Chicago's South Side to the Ivy precincts of Princeton and Harvard. To those who say she's a feminist, I don't think so. Certainly she benefited from the civil rights and the women's movement, but she is not at heart a political animal. She'd rather be at home in Chicago.

As for the man in the Oval, come on. Is this the way our civil liberties end - not with a bang but a whimper? Or perhaps a whisper, because the liberals among us - and I am one - are still in stage one of trauma: shock. They are speaking out softly. If the president who gave a green light to this virtual spying on the citizenry was George W. Bush, we'd be up in arms. We can't yet wrap our minds around Obama doing this, but clearly we don't know him as well as we thought. We thought he said he was one of us.

Now that there's no election in sight for them, something tells me we'll be getting to know the president and first lady much better.

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