I am invited to Michelle Obama’s donor event, and all I can think about is the first lady’s hair. How much money and time (better yet, what time?) is spent maintaining that lustrous, staggeringly stiff bob, hairspray-drowned and perched upon Mrs. Obama’s head?
Gone is the unmitigated optimism of the 2008 election. In its place: a sober discussion of values, authenticity, and Michelle not unconvincingly fawning over her husband. Barack supported the women in his life, worked hard, and helped others; these are the same values he has now. She married him for the same reason she urges the crowd to vote for him: Obama has held a consistent set of values. “When people are urging you to do what the polls like… you have to have an inner compass that pulls you to the values of the people,” she says of her husband. The implication is that Romney, who isn’t mentioned, is less navigationally gifted. In essence, she gives a marginally more intimate version of her speech at the Democratic National Convention with an “every vote counts” message tacked onto the end.
Three Secret Service agents casually stand by the entrance of the parking lot, suspiciously eyeing a dispirited gaggle of Daily Princetonian editors looking enviously at the donor crowd. A mix of faculty, octogenarians, and middle-aged couples shuffle through the security clearance, surrendering purses and wallets to Secret Service agents. One assures me he doesn’t take tips. We few student invitees stand in the Golden backyard, surrounded by a foreign crowd of wealthy donors casually mentioning dates of the other donor events they attended. “Oh, we hosted that one,” mentions a man clutching a screwdriver and a bite-sized quiche.