Michelle Obama: Being The First Lady ‘Has Prison Elements To It’
Michelle Obama said that being First Lady has some “prison elements to it” on Tuesday at the first annual African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania. Obama, along with her host, former First Lady Laura Bush, took part in a discussion moderated by Cokie Roberts at the George W. Bush Institute. The discussion kicked off a two-day long summit that reportedly featured ten first ladies of African nations.
During the discussion, Roberts asked Obama about her thoughts on the first First Lady, Martha Washington, and her feeling that being the First Lady was like being a ‘Chief State Prisoner.’ Obama responded that, though perhaps a bit limiting, the role of First Lady is nothing but a blessing.
"We have…the best jobs in the world because, unlike our husbands who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute-by-minute basis… we get to work on what we’re passionate about. And I think that that’s something that I would encourage all First Ladies to never lose sight of. You have an opportunity to speak to your passions and to really design and be very strategic about the issues you care most about. And I just found it just a very freeing and liberating opportunity,” Obama said at the summit.
When pushed by Roberts, Obama admitted that Martha Washington was not completely wrong comparing the role of First Lady to a prison, likening the White House to a prison. "There are prison elements to it, but it’s a really nice prison… you can’t complain, but there are definitely elements that are confining,” Obama told the crowd.
Michelle Obama is not the first White House occupant to make such a statement. In fact, Bill Clinton once directly called the White House a prison, according to The Atlantic.
“I don’t know whether it’s the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the prison system,” joked President Clinton.
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