Behind every great man...

Is a great woman with the potential to hurt his presidential shot?

Published May 18, 2007 9:02PM (EDT)

Maybe today's New York Times profile of Michelle Obama is an attempt to make up for Maureen Dowd's hysterical (meaning both unhinged and ha-ha, she-can't-be-serious) take on the "princess of South Chicago's" emasculating ways. Thankfully, this story moves us beyond the shock that Michelle isn't serving as a sycophantic sidekick to Barack, her hubby-turned-presidential hopeful.

The profile takes care to portray her "propensity for bluntness" and "fierce competitive drive" -- both of which seem total attributes. I actually found myself somewhat charmed by her brother's description of her distaste for defeat -- "even now [she] pouts when a board game does not go her way," says the Times. She's a Princeton and Harvard grad who made over $200K as a hospital executive (before taking a hefty pay cut to help out with her husband's campaign). She volunteers. She plays mom to two kids. And, she's rumored to work as a costumed crime-fighter in her spare time! (Kidding.) The Times paints Michelle Obama as your average, down-to-earth mother attempting the work-life balance, just ... more intimidating. ("Everyone in the family is afraid of her," her brother jokes.)

I'm won over by her brassy, brainy style, but is the rest of America ready for her? Assuming for a minute that the media's focus on Michelle shifts from oh-no-she-didn't critiques to "gosh, she's impressive" odes and public perception follows suit, will it strengthen Barack's presidential shot? Or, is a strong man seen as a lesser leader -- and lesser man -- by standing next to an equally strong woman?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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