Report By: Nina Rai
Washington, 11 Jan., 2012
American First Lady Michelle Obama’s spontaneous jig at a Mumbai school when she accompanied President Barack Obama on his trip to India in 2010 was apparently ‘stage managed’ by the White House staff, with a view to sending a positive image throughout the world. This surprising claim has been made in an upcoming biography on the Obamas.
In her latest book ‘The Obamas,’ New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor wrote that while in Mumbai, when President Obama was busy discussing trade relations between India and US, his wife met up with a bunch of orphans and stowaways, removing her “shoes to play hopscotch with them, dancing and shimmying to the beat of a song from a Bollywood movie.”
Further according to Kantor, Michelle’s staff by now knew the magic formula and that was to put the First Lady in a roomful of kids particularly kids who were total outsiders and just let them connect with each other and this will undoubtedly end up in “a moment that generated warm, positive images and video,” wrote the NY Times journo.
The First Lady’s deputy chief of staff Melissa Winter was even quoted as saying in the book “All we had to do was set the stage.” However, this claim by Jodi Kantor in her book has been totally rejected by the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has gone on to describe it as highly exaggerated.
According to the book the Mumbai act was based on the earlier visit of the First Lady to a London School. “It was the original, defining visit to the London school refined, repeated, staged again and again by East Wing staff, turned into a reliable formula to convey what she wanted to stand for on the world stage: the idea that anyone could grow up to be anything,” informs the book.
Further more the author wrote that the image flashed all over the globe was one of “The First Lady elegantly defying convention and caste, were the opposite of the ones from her Spain trip ….. She looked joyful, accessible, down-to-earth value added,” and this is what she approvingly told her team later, adds the author.
According to author, Michelle’s favorite term was ‘Value-added’ and it was one of the highest tributes she gave. “It meant that the moments were beneficial to the administration; that they helped the president in some way,” declared Kantor.