Because it can sometimes be a little confining, living in the White House is sometimes like living in a “really nice prison,” First Lady Michelle Obama said Tuesday, according to remarks sent to the press.
Her “prison” comments were made during a discussion with former First Lady Laura Bush and NPR’s Cokie Roberts at the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania.
Roberts pointed out during the discussion that Martha Washington, wife of President George Washington, also likened the life of the First Lady to that of a state prisoner.
“Martha Washington, our first First Lady, wrote in the first year that she was First Lady, she wrote to her niece that she felt like a ‘Chief State Prisoner,’” Roberts said.
“But she was able to do good — she lobbied for all of those veterans that she had been to camp with through the Revolutionary War. And people don’t realize that first ladies have been doing that kind of thing from Martha Washington,” she added.
First Lady Michelle Obama agreed that the role can sometimes be “confining,” but stressed that she loves the job.
“I always joke that we have probably the best jobs in the world because, unlike our husbands who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute-by-minute basis — they come into office with a wonderful, profound agenda, and then they’re faced with the reality,” Michelle Obama said.
“On the other hand, 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,” she added.
“No state prisoner?” Roberts joked.
“No, there are prison elements to it,” Mrs. Obama responded. “But it’s a really nice prison, so –”
“But with a chef,” former First Lady Laura Bush reminded the crowd.
“You can’t complain,” Michelle Obama said. “But there is definitely elements that are confining.”
Here are her remarks:
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