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Shocker: Michelle Obama Was Discontented

From Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Michelle Obama book tells of her discontent at Chicago law firm

By Lynn Sweet on October 5, 2008

WASHINGTON–The title of a new biography of Michelle Obama is simply “Michelle” by Washington Post Magazine writer Liza Mundy, and an excerpt running in the Sunday edition tells of her discontent as an associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley, Austin, a “challenge to manage.”

Barack Obama met Michelle at the firm Michelle joined after Harvard Law School. She was part of the marketing group one of the “fun” practices at the firm–dealing with entertainment, after all, but there still was routine second year associate work Michelle Obama was not crazy about.


But Michelle could also frustrate her supervisors. Quincy White, the partner who helped recruit Michelle and who headed the marketing group, remembers finding her a challenge to manage. White, who is now retired from the firm, says he gave her the most interesting work he could find, in part because he wanted to see her advance, but also because she seemed perennially dissatisfied.

She was, White recalls, “quite possibly the most ambitious associate that I’ve ever seen.” She wanted significant responsibility right away and was not afraid to object if she wasn’t getting what she felt she deserved, he says.

At big firms, much of the work that falls to young associates involves detail and tedium. There were all sorts of arcane but important rules about what could and could not be said or done in product advertisements, and in the marketing group, all the associates, not just the new ones, reviewed scripts for TV commercials to make sure they conformed. As far as associate work goes, it could have been worse — “Advertising is a little sexier than spending a full year reading depositions in an antitrust law suit or reviewing documents for a big merger,” says White — but it was monotonous and relatively low-level.

Too monotonous for Michelle, who, White says, complained that the work he gave her was unsatisfactory. He says he gave her the Coors beer ads, which he considered one of the more glamorous assignments they had. Even then, he says, “she at one point went over my head and complained [to human resources] that I wasn’t giving her enough interesting stuff, and the person came down to my office and said, ‘Basically she’s complaining that she’s being treated like she’s a second-year associate,’ and we agreed that she was a second-year associate. I had eight or nine other associates, and I couldn’t start treating one of them a lot better.”

White says he talked to Michelle about her expectations, but the problem could not be resolved because the work was what it was. He is not sure any work he had would have satisfied her. “I couldn’t give her something that would meet her sense of ambition to change the world.”

“Not many people went over my head,” says White. It was an unusual move for a young associate to make, and he believes it was consistent with her personality. She “wanted something that pushed her harder. Waiting five to seven years to make partner was a good career move for me but not for [her]. There are too many other opportunities out there that mature faster than that.”

Abner Mikva, a former congressman and federal judge who is close to the Obamas and was an early mentor to Barack, finds that account of Michelle’s 20-something impatience amusing. “It doesn’t surprise me at all,” he says.

Yes, Michelle is quite the charmer.

But how odd that the Washington Post would run such a lengthy excerpt from a (for the most part highly) fawning biography about a Democrat candidate’s wife so close to election day.

Especially since the woman herself has been safely packed away until it is safe.

(You can read the rest of the Washington Post’s excerpt here.)

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 5th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Shocker: Michelle Obama Was Discontented”

  1. Moonspinner says:

    Her attitude does not surprise me at all. You can tell she has a huge chip on her shoulder. If you thought Hillary was a conniving, manipulative, arrogant and head strong first lady, you ain’t seen nothing yet if Barry Hussien Obama gets in the White House.

  2. wardmama4 says:

    -‘she seemed perennially dissatisfied’- I really want to know exactly what has made this person so dissatisfied? Princeton, Harvard (apparently not having to ‘work’ her way through), two plum jobs (which both seem to push her up and beyond without a care about her abilities) and married to the Master of the Universe wanna be who makes womins’ faint and menfolk jump up and shout Yes. And two children it appears that she has never, ever stayed home with or cared for – and oh yes, a million dollar home within 12 years of marrying.

    Don’t we all wish our lives were so damn rotten?

    I agree Moonspinner – just wait until that witch gets into the WH – I know why she did not want Hillary as the VP – can you imagine the b word jokes that would abound with those two vying for First Lady.

  3. U NO HOO says:

    “the work that falls to young associates involves detail and tedium”

    We used to call such people apprentices, the ones learning the trade.

  4. Anonymoose says:

    I hope this woman doesn’t get into the White House, she’ll make Hillary look like a Girl Scout leader. If work wasn’t “challenging” or “interesting” enough she should have gone to another firm or accepted what she got like the rest of us. But going to H.R. because she wasn’t getting up there quick enough–that’s usually a ticket out the door. Some people try to build a career on experience and accomplishment, not some quick make-me-important victory.

    The press keeps trying to glamorize Michelle but she’s downright homely–sue me, call me racist, whatever, she ain’t good looking, and I can’t picture her being graceful or tactful with the international community.

    I keep hoping to wake up and find out this is all a bad dream, but instead it’s a live action cartoon.

  5. Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

    The law firm completely missed the point. The problem wasn’t that she was “dissatisfied” with the work, the problem was that they expected her TO work. Everything has been handed to these two poster children for affirmative action and for anyone thinking that they’re going to stop the gravy train, they must be racist.

  6. 1sttofight says:

    You have got to be kidding,These are the chosen ones.

  7. platypus says:

    Am I the only one that thinks this book being released 30 days before the election needs to be reported to the FEC as an in-kind contribution?

  8. artboyusa says:

    From Barack’s Back Pages, a rerun of “A Special message of Hope from Barack Obama”!

    Dear Friend

    You know, just last night Michelle and I took the stage before yet another tumultuous, adoring crowd, each of them whooping and hollering like nobody’s business, and as we stood there, smiling and applauding ourselves in that weird Stalinist way we have, I thought to myself “By Allah’s beard, Barack, you’ve got a bright, beautiful, bighearted woman there!”

    I mean Michelle, of course. Who else? Isn’t she great? You bet she is! And yet, life hasn’t always been easy for her – oh no, America has disappointed her too, just as America has disappointed so many of the ordinary people I’m reaching with my message of hope; those dull, sulking, huddled and miserable millions, trapped forever in a psychic nightmare of burning resentment and personal failure because America didn’t give them a million dollars and a big house on the lake and marry them to Jennifer Aniston.

    Or Brad Pitt for you gals – not that there’s anything wrong if you prefer Jennifer – she’s a babe. Value judgements have never been my way, unlike the Republicans, those smirking, bloated slavemasters who would have all of us toiling away in the hot sun, harvesting oil for Halliburton for a nickel a day if they could.

    But I digress – where was I? Oh yeah; Michelle. Anyway, she hasn’t had it easy. Why just the other day she had a phone call from her office. “Um, Michelle” they said. “You haven’t been in to work for two years now – any plans to, uh, you know, stop by? We know you’re busy and all with your message of hope and change but you’ve got a lot of mail piling up and there’s some people in the waiting room and your inbox is pretty full too”.

    Can you believe it? Michelle practically donates her talent, her experience and her personal charm for a token salary of $274,000 – where else could you get a “Vice President for Community and External Affairs” for that kind of money? And they have the nerve expect her to show up every year or two? Talk about raising the barrier! “You’ve got this far, sister. Welcome aboard! Here’s your salary check – whoops! Now you’ve got to come into work for it!”

    This is the kind of trick America pulls every day on the ordinary working person, the kind I can see every day from my office window, the people who mow our lawns and clean our pools and drive us to and from our many speaking engagements and personal appearances – people just like you. Or her. Or that guy over there. No wonder you’re all so bitter.

    Well, Michelle turned on her fabulous personal charm and by the time she was done charming him I could hear that guy from the office crying down the phone and promising never to call back. Good job, Michelle! It’s that special thing she has, that ability to make a direct contact with other people, even when they’re her inferiors, that make her such an asset to our campaign to bring peace and justice, fairness and hope, goodness and decency and excellent personal hygiene to our troubled, confused, Bush-ridden and racially polarized society – whether you want them or not.

    Have a great day (if it isn’t, that’s because some rich white man gypped you)

    Your pal


  9. heather08 says:

    She went to Human Resources to complain? HR holds no sway over attorneys, even first year attorneys, at big law firms. The only reason a young lawyer would go to human resources would be to lay the groundwork for a discrimination claim. I have seen other instances like this. In one case I know of a “black” associate won a settlement from his firm. The irony of it was that he was so light-skinned that most people didn’t know he was black!

  10. NueTral says:

    Quote from The Color Purple Paraphased

    ” She may be Black, and she may be Ugly, but she’s a white house contender”

  11. Liberals Demise says:

    GIMME, GIMME, GIMME…….Po, Po,Porky…..youse my wo, wo, wo, woman!!

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