In the first years of Barack Obama's presidency, Michelle Obama had some very serious disagreements with her husband's staff, and particularly his first chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, according to a forthcoming book from New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor called The Obamas, excerpted by The Times on Friday. Kantor has several serious sounding anecdotes, and here she describes a peak in the tensions:
Mr. Emanuel, who told colleagues that his battles as a staffer with Mrs. Clinton back then had taught him to steer clear of first ladies, mostly avoided Mrs. Obama. The tense relationship between the East and West Wings remained a muted matter, but the strains eventually became deep enough that the first lady’s team held a retreat in the winter of 2010 to discuss the problem. Ms. Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, served as an envoy and tried to smooth relations
This sounds less than fun for the President himself. We agree that this depiction has a Clinton-era echo to it (or even Stockard Channing playing the mercurial first lady on The West Wing.) Actually the fact that it so closely fits the model of a First Lady conflict story gives us pause. Kantor didn't interview the president or the first lady, so who knows whether they agree with this depiction of things. Either way, Emanuel's off governing Chicago these days, so the dynamic is bound to have changed a bit, but from this preview, the whole book sure does sound like a good read.