Michelle Obama's podcast sounds suspiciously like a stump speech

Michelle Obama.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Former first lady Michelle Obama has officially joined the ranks of Snooki, Snoop Dogg, and your old college roommate by starting her own podcast. In a sense, The Michelle Obama Podcast was inevitable: the Obamas pivoted from being politicians to celebrities after leaving the White House, and a requirement of being a famous person in 2020 is talking into a microphone for fans who may or may not exist.

Since handing over the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the Trumps, the Obamas have fully embraced their celebrity status, signing a $65 million joint book deal, landing a massive, multi-year producing gig with Netflix, and, most recently, booking Obama's podcast (Spotify, which has the exclusive, inked similar deals around the same time with Kim Kardashian West, Joe Rogan, and DC Comics). Though Michelle Obama isn't hawking vagina candles or posting FabFitFun sponcon on Instagram, the Obamas aren't exactly following the Jimmy Carter model of living modestly while quietly building thousands of homes for Habitat for Humanity, either. Perhaps most frustrating for their supporters, the couple's pivot into celebritydom has seemed accompanied by a reluctance to speak out about politics in any meaningful way.

The debut episode of the podcast, though, also highlights Michelle's innate gift for spinning her biography into political issues and advocacy — a talent that is hard to come by (Hillary Clinton struggled with it) but practically a golden ticket for a politician. Obama, for example, discusses her Leave It to Beaver-esque childhood, smoothly evoking the unifying vision her husband sold: "You are guided by the principle that we are each other's brother's and sister's keepers," Michelle tells Barack. "And that's how I was raised!"

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Obama says her podcast is intended to explore "relationships" by digging into her own. But it quickly becomes clear that there's a bigger picture: "We weren't built to do this thing called life in a vacuum. It is much more hopeful, it is much more gratifying, much more effective to live this life as a 'we,'" she stresses.

It's a good line — she should have saved it for the convention speech.

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at TheWeek.com. She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.