Michelle Obama, woman of limited ambitions?

The most depressing part of New York magazine's dispiriting cover package on the first lady.

Published March 16, 2009 6:34PM (EDT)

Here is what we learn about ladies from this week's New York magazine cover package about Michelle Obama, specifically from David Samuels, who has written about why Michelle Obama is the perfect foil for Barack Obama, a man who, on his own, "would make us uncomfortable":

"There are clear limits to Michelle's ambition. She went to excellent schools, got decent grades, stayed away from too much intellectual heavy lifting, and held a series of practical, modestly salaried jobs while accommodating her husband's wilder dreams and raising two lovely daughters. In this, she is a more practical role model for young women than Hillary Clinton, blending her calculations about family and career with an expectation of normal personal happiness."

To get too worked up over this forgettable fleck of inane commentary is to get caught in a feminist finger trap. So I'll just remind parents that if they want their daughters to best serve their country as role models who make their confusingly black-but-high-achieving husbands more digestible to the American people, they should teach them to keep their own expectations normal, their ambitions limited, their grades decent, their intellectual burdens light-ish, their career plans accommodating, and their salaries modest ($273, 618).

Check out the whole vaguely dispiriting package -- complete with contributions from Broadsheet favorites Caitlin Flanagan and Katie Roiphe -- here.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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