Would you? Of course not. No one would. Yet, we're supposed to believe she's always riled up about something. Really?
Critics started accusing her of this kind of thing before she even moved to Washington. Chatter about her alleged attitude problem resumed recently thanks to the publication of The Obamas, a book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. The book describes alleged tensions in the White House between some advisers, particularly ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and Michelle Obama. The book describes the first lady as being initially reluctant to move into the White House and other incidents in which she supposedly chafed at the restrictions placed upon her.
"I guess it's more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman - you know? But that's been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day Barack announced, that I'm some angry black woman," she told CBS News' Gayle King recently. "I just try to be me, and my hope is that, over time, people get to know me, and they get to judge me for me."
Who can forget the infamous 2008 New Yorker cover on which she was caricatured as a militant with an Afro hairstyle, toting a machine gun? When she said on the campaign trail, "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback," conservatives seized on her comment as evidence that she was hostile toward our nation. To my ears, it seemed that she was referencing that despite the historic mistreatment of African-Americans, America had moved past all that and that it made her proud of her country. But neither I nor her critics really can say what she meant. If she could, I bet she would rephrase those campaign comments.
But I think the first lady is gutsy to address head-on the accusations that's she angry and hostile. The angry black woman stereotype dates back to the "Amos and Andy" radio show in the 1920s and is frequently hurled at assertive African-American females. I've felt its sting myself, such as the time when a man said to me "The last thing I want is to make a black woman angry at me." I guess in his eyes, we're all like Nene Leakes, the frequently irate cast member on the Bravo reality show "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
Yesterday, in reaction to negativity directed at Michelle Obama, a Facebook event urged women to don their pearls as a show of solidarity with the first lady.
Race aside, it's not easy being first lady.
Hillary Clinton was called all kinds of unflattering things after she dared to head up a commission to reform health care; Nancy Reagan was accused of being a dragon lady.
At the end of that CBS interview, Obama, who grew up in an apartment on the south side of Chicago, shows King around the White House's East Wing, including a peek inside the movie theater where the first family enjoys movie nights. It's just like the theater where you and I see movies, minus the waiting lines for tickets and the popcorn on the floor. Of course, when we want to see a first-run film, we drive to a theater, stand in line, pay for a ticket, and sit with a bunch of strangers, hoping they won't talk back at the screen or answer their ringing cellphone. My point is, Michelle O has it good.
Even Oprah Winfrey doesn't have it better. As candidate Obama famously pointed out during his 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia, " . . . I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible."
So, I go back to my initial question: What could Michelle Obama have to be angry about?
Jodi Kantor will be at the National Constitution Center at 6:30 tonight to discuss her book, The Obamas. Admission is $7 for members, students and teachers, $10 for nonmembers. Reservations are required. Log onto www.constitutioncenter.org or call 215-409-6700.