Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Michelle Obama focusing on getting daughters settled, long term agenda planning


WASHINGTON -- While President Obama is packing his schedule, first lady Michelle Obama is not planning many public appearances until she is sure daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, are settled in their new city, I'm told by the first lady's office.
In the meantime, the first lady is also crafting her longer-term portfolio and figuring out how to execute her goal of making the White House more accessible to the public.

In case you were wondering, the Obamas do not have a nanny, I'm told. The first grandmother, South Sider Marian Robinson, Michelle's mom, moved into the White House for now to help.

As for keeping the Obama girls grounded, the Jonas Brothers' surprise White House visit last week -- band members were at the end of a scavenger hunt -- was the exception for the sisters and will not be the rule. One time, unique, not going to be a habit, I'm told.

During the campaign, Obama said as first lady she would focus on helping military families and taking on women's issues. As it evolves, her agenda is getting additions. Preliminary plans have Obama also bringing to a "national stage" work and family balance "conversations" and a community service piece, with her interest stemming from her tenure as executive director of Public Allies Chicago from spring 1993 to fall 1996.

Though it's not clear yet how it will be done, Obama also wants the White House to have more of an "impact" in her new hometown. (At present, most tours are arranged through members of Congress for groups and need months of advance notice.)

If there is a state dinner at night with some famous entertainment, perhaps it will be possible to "do something in the afternoon that's more causal but open to folks," I'm told. Think of the giant concert last week at the Lincoln Memorial on a smaller scale.

Most Washingtonians who have come into contact with the girls have respected the privacy that their parents have requested, especially at Sidwell Friends, the school the girls attend.


I am proud of the fact that both Obamas are finding ways of fulfilling their roles as public servants without minimizing the importance of being good parents. They are great role models for us all.

Ms. Sweet,
On reading your article on yesterday regarding Mrs. Obama Mrs. Obama focusing on her daughters, you referred to her as "Obama" several times. I feel it would be appropriate to refer to her as The First Lady as you did in th beginning of you article or as Mrs. Obama.

I am so glad grandma's there--the nanny would just write a kiss and tell thing and be a major distraction.

Our first lady will do a great job, but she needs to be with the young girls first. We will all be waiting for her when she's ready.

As a 13 year old, i really do honor Michelle Obama.She has definatly inspired me to try harder at the things i do. Also to work harder for a great future.So thank you Michelle, i really do appreciate it.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 26, 2009 7:11 AM.

Remarkable split screen on ABC's "GMA" Blagojevich in New York, state Sen. Murphy in Chicago. UPDATE. GMA transcript was the previous entry in this blog.

Winfrey responds to Blagojevich is the next entry in this blog.

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