Did Michelle Obama once tell Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of France's president, that being First Lady is "hell. I can't stand it"? Definitely not, say both the French Embassy and the White House, after the quote — from a new biography of Bruni by French authors — spent the day zipping around the blogosphere, generating speculation. Even though the anecdote has been "contested," many commentators weren't able to resist analysis: (Watch an AP report about the denial)
I knew the Obamas were unhappy: This is "corroborating evidence" of my "novelist's observation" about the White House, says Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media: President Obama "loathes his occupation." Sure, being first lady is "no walk in the park on various levels," but if Michelle really hates it, well, that "would make for one unhappy home."
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The quote sounds plausible: "Honestly, can you blame her?" asks Glynnis MacNichol in Mediaite. According to the two French journalists who wrote the book, Bruni asked the now infamous question during a visit to the White House in March, and "considering the sort of year the Obamas have had press-wise, I imagine 'hell' is a rather tame way of phrasing it."
I'm buying the denial: The "hotly disputed" quote is a "fine scoop," says Richard Adams in The Guardian, but it's an "unlikely tale." Michelle Obama and Bruni had already met three times before the alleged incident, and "How do you like your job?" is "an unlikely question to ask at the fourth time of meeting." Still, "don't be surprised if 'Freedom Fries' are back on the menu at the White House" after this.
This says more about Bruni than Obama: Even if she did say it, "I'm giving Michelle a complete pass on this one," says Ann Althouse in her blog. First, Carla Bruni's an infamous attention hog. And even when you factor in the language barrier, there are "a hundred ways those words could have been spoken." Given the "whole context and inflection," Obama could just as easily have meant "Of course, it's wonderful."
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