Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Lady Power Plays

First Lady Michell Obama shares the Queen protocol breach with France's First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Photo courtesy of White House
Every first lady demurs about the exercise of power.  Each has pet issues and are notorious for finding a path to what they want done.  Laura Bush wanted a new chef.  But first, she replaced her first social secretary with a DC lady of lunches with a 13,000 square foot home then, had the new Social Secretary au gratin the old White House Executive Chef without having a replacement.  Laura Bush's first social secretary called the environment volatile.  Tiddlywinks turmoil by WH standards.  Michelle Obama has a new chief of staff and an ex-chief of staff in less than 4 1/2 months.  Nancy Reagan as tiny as she is terrified Don Regan and he was on the West Wing side of things.  Hillary famously set the replacement record by getting involved with how the press travel worked and poof, they were gone. I have repeated often, watch the East Wing as the ebbs and flows in the supposedly quiet section is where the drama happens, even Obama Drama. 
Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Rosalynn Carter and Nicola Goren on south side of White House
Jackie Norris has chief of staff on her resume and she's already landed a job as a senior adviser.  Hmmm, I wonder if they talked about the possibility out on the South Balcony during this lunch a bunch moment.  The lady in the pink jacket standing next to two iron-willed first ladies and Dr. Jill Biden is Michelle Obama's ex-chief of staff Jackie Norris's new boss, the acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Jackie knows Iowa, but Susan Sher knows Chicago players & both Obamas.  Susan lives in the same building as Barack Obama's top advisor Valerie Jarrett and the ubiquitous Desirée Rogers.  It helps to be connected and maintain tight control over what emanates from the East Wing.  Michelle is so getting the DC thing now - it happens and if it didn't, we should worry. (Jacke Norris in fuschia blouse.)

Now what makes this all very interesting is that this week, a former doyenne of the White House had lunch with Michelle Obama in the family's private dining room in the residence. Who better to tell Michelle about when to pull the trigger on personnel moves than Nancy Reagan.  This was another first lady who lived by her own set of rules.  She would be dying to ask Michelle how she is paying for her designer duds after hers caused such uproars.  Michelle paid homage to another of her predecessors by making every detail for their lunch filled with Reagan flavor.  Check -The dishes were the infamous Reagan china that gave so many the vapors even though funds were raised privately to purchase the Lennox.  Check-Peonies in bright colors. Check - fashion ensemble gives props to Nancy's power color, Red.  The White House has institutional memory so they used it to prepare some of the former first lady's favorites under the direction of power forward First lady Michelle Obama.

The Ultimate First Lady's Power Lunch


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