• Michelle Obama Hugs Away the Necessary Roughness of Politics

    We're hours away from the Democratic National Convention kickoff, and no one's been training harder for this moment than Michelle Obama. After four years of taking hit after hit from conservative tight ends, the first lady has really come into her own as an arms-open-wide receiver. For those of you unfamiliar with her technique, here's why she leads the league in approval percentages…

    This is how Michelle Obama delivers a hug: The nearly six-foot-tall first lady envelops her target, her long arms often wrapping all the way around the recipient’s back. She leans in close, unafraid to press her body against a stranger’s. Working crowds with her husband, she sometimes falls behind him, because he is more of a hand-shaker or high-fiver, and in the second-to-second choreography of a rope line, the Michelle Obama hug takes time.

    After years of analyzing play-by-plays in slow-mo, analysts agree that the first lady has developed a unique style that efficiently conveys the exact amount of empathy needed to score points with voters. This wasn't always the case. In her rookie years, Michelle Obama was more of a "loose cannon" political player…

    Behind the scenes, Mrs. Obama’s advocacy for her husband can be so forceful that speechwriters have had to tone it down over the years for public presentation, aides say. But despite the scathing critiques of Republicans that she had been known to deliver in private, her advisers believe that she is most potent when she does not appear overtly political and that she comes across best as a gracious noncombatant in the red-and-blue wars. So at the convention, they say, she will try to present herself as a caring, wifely figure and appear above the partisan fray.

    As many first ladies know (the notable exception being Hillary Clinton), appearing to be bigger than "the game" is key to winning a second term in office. Tonight, Michelle Obama has to go big or go home, keep her eyes on the prize and defend the president's trip to the end zone.

    Just one word of advice, Mrs. Obama: If you see Bill Clinton, watch your back. He might try to pull a two-point conversion for Hillary in 2016.

    Photo by Kris Connor/Stringer/Getty Images

    Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama


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