The XX Factor

Why Isn’t Michelle Obama Living Up to Washington’s Expectations?

Michelle Obama is apparently not living up to the expectations of DC insiders, according to an article in Politico today . They see her as standoffish, because she mainly keeps to her small circle of old, trusted friends from Chicago. But Obama has been great about giving time and resources to her two major issues: Childhood obesity and military families . So why the griping?

Part of the disappointment in Obama is that expectations were so high. As Washington socialite Sally Quinn tells Politico, “I think when they came in, there was this expectation that they would be this young hot couple and they would be out on the town and would pump some new blood into the social scene and that just hasn’t happened.” People in political circles saw how Michelle was during the campaign-vivacious and stylish and smart-and can’t understand why she hasn’t reached out to them more.

But I can understand why Michelle Obama has kept her socializing to a minimum. Whenever she showed her true self during the 2008 campaign, she was criticized , and in turn, stifled . In this new media universe, any social misstep she would be seized upon and exploded (see the Salahis crashing the White House party for evidence ). What’s more, it seems like most modern women who have come into the pretty retrograde role of first lady - Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton included - have trouble mastering it in a way that critics find acceptable. The Politico piece pointedly remarks that the Obama White House is “not Camelot.” The Kennedy Presidency was about 50 years ago. It’s clearly time to create new standards of measurement .