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Michelle Obama: Not some "angry black woman"

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WASHINGTON -- First lady Michelle Obama knows when the stuff about her being an angry black woman got started, and over time she hopes it will go away.

"That's been an image that people have tried to paint of me since, you know, the day Barack announced, that I'm some angry black woman," she told CBS News in an interview broadcast Wednesday.

To deal with it, "I just try to be me. And my hope is that, over time, people get to know me, and they get to judge me for me."

Mrs. Obama's comments came when she discussed for the first time The Obamas, a new book about the first couple by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. She told CBS News' Gayle King that she had not read the book -- but had been told about some parts of it and was critical of its intimate tone about her views and attitudes that she never discussed with the author.

"Who can write about how I feel? Who? What third person can tell me how I feel, or anybody, for that matter," Mrs. Obama said.

Kantor had access to present and former administration officials and Obama friends, some speaking on the record and others on background. Kantor had a 40-minute interview with the first couple in 2009 about their personal relationship.

The White House pushed back starting Saturday when it turned out that the book had big doses of palace intrigue and was written in a manner that suggested an intimacy that the White House said just did not exist.

Mrs. Obama, who aggressively works to be non-controversial, kept her interview date with King, scheduled before the book was out. Mrs. Obama agreed to the interview with King (Oprah Winfrey's best friend) to help her launch her new CBS morning show.

One episode reported in the book -- which covers the beginning of the Obama presidency to last summer -- is a blowup by then Press Secretary Robert Gibbs after senior adviser Valerie Jarrett signaled that the first lady was not pleased with how a story about her and French first lady Carla Sarkozy was handled.

Kantor also wrote about strained relations between Mrs. Obama and Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he was Obama's chief of staff and, in the first years, a West Wing that treated the East Wing as a junior partner.

Of Mrs. Obama and Emanuel, Kantor wrote "Their relationship was distant and awkward from the beginning. She had been skeptical of him when he was selected and now he returned the favor."

Mrs. Obama told King, "Rahm is -- and Amy, his wife -- are some of our dearest friends. Rahm and I have never had a cross word. He's a funny guy."

"You've never had a cross word with Rahm Emanuel?" asked King , perhaps because Emanuel is so combative.

"We have never had a cross word. I mean, I don't have conversations with my husband's staff. I don't go to the meetings. I don't have -- our staffs work together really well."

: Kantor writes about the Obamas on a Martha's Vineyard vacation, where they invited Chicago pals Allison and Susan Davis to join them on a beach set aside for their use. (Davis and Obama worked in the same law firm in Chicago back in the day.) Writes Kantor, Davis started to help pack up to leave "folding towels and such," only to be told by Obama he did not have to do that. Kantor reports Obama told Davis, "When I leave office there are only two things I want. . . . I want a plane and I want a valet."

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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 12, 2012 9:06 AM.

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