The Book Club

Michelle Obama tells the Nobel laureate to pick up his socks.

The first lady is Barack Obama’s Department of “Let’s Get Real.”

Barack and Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama is President Obama’s Department of “Let’s Get Real”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Busted. It’s very Michelle of you, in fact, to remind me that you’re wise to my tricks. My favorite phrase in the book is that the first lady is Obama’s Department of “Let’s Get Real.” I love that she keeps him from getting too high on his own supply. Two dangers for all presidents are the isolation from normal existence and the massive ego trip that even a well-grounded person tends to go on after years of flattery and adulation. When Michelle tells the Nobel laureate to pick up his dirty socks, it brings Barack back to earth. She calls him out on his faults and evasions for his own good. He knows that it’s good for him and that he needs her to do it.

Another vignette from the book: In September 2006, Sen. Obama admitted to Robert Gibbs, then his chief of staff, that he hadn’t told Michelle in advance that he was going to show up at Tom Harkin’s Iowa steak fry, a traditional early indicator of presidential interest. (Michelle found out from a news report.)”Are you crazy?” Gibbs asked him. But it’s obvious why Barack was afraid to tell her. He gets mocked for thinking he’s the messiah at home, same as on Fox News.

Love, your running mate.