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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: First Lady Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama comes prepared for a beach day with Barack

Michelle Obama tunes out her husband with an iPod on their island vacation 8-21-11

Ah, family vacation time in an American August, a chance for members to rediscover the joys and pleasures of being together, whether they like it or not.

As soon as President Obama escaped his new million-dollar bus in the Midwest and the latest disappointing economic numbers came out, the Democrat flew off to tony Martha's Vineyard to join his family, extended family and staff doing expensive things in a different place.

Some people thought such a venture revealed a political tone deafness for the elected elite to be seen enjoying off-shore luxury while two-thirds of American voters tell pollsters the country is on the wrong track with the Real Good Talker in charge. But, hey, Yes, We Can. So, Yes, He Did.

Sunday morning the Secret Service packed all the Obamas in secure cars and headed for a private ocean beach.

Reuters' sharp-eyed Kevin Lamarque snapped this revealing photo of the first couple in the car tuned out from each other during this quality time family foray.

Of course, Michelle Obama could have her iPod crammed with hubby's recent speeches.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters (the vacationing Obamas head to the beach for some quality together time, Aug. 21).

Dow Jones plunges 512 points; but don't worry, President Obama's birthday parties unaffected

New York Stock Exchange traders react to the market's plunge on president obama's birthday, 8-4-11

Uh, what in the world is going on here?

That humongous hard-fought debt ceiling deal that was supposed to settle things down in D.C. financially and politically seems to be doing precisely the opposite there and now around the world. And all within 48 hours.

Europe isn't buying the deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged almost 513 points today, erasing all of its gains this year, as fears grew of yet another recession before most people believed the first one was ovObama celebrates his birthday in chicago aug 3 11er. This White House returned to SOP immediately anyway. And George W. Bush is nowhere in sight to blame for this one.

Could Texas Rep. Ron Paul be right again?  He said: "You don’t get out of the problem of having too much debt by allowing Congress to spend a lot more."

Former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson, who served on Obama's deficit commission, explained the financial battering of the U.S. as similar to crises in Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy.

"It is a global, global economy," he said to Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel. "It is so different from anything we have ever had in our whole history, and all of these countries have this trajectory of deficit and interest which is unconscionable and unsustainable."

Here's what the world was witnessing as it hoped to see this country start controlling its craving for fiscal cheeseburgers and fries for every meal:

Obama was so pleased with the bipartisan deal to control spending and cut the nation's $14.3 trillion national debt that he signed it in private. Within hours he was talking about spending much more on bridges, roads, clean energy and unemployment extensions.

Despite his sagging poll numbers, Obama then resumed fundraising for his reelection. He flew to Chicago for a $35,800-per-plate dinner that raised millions. He gave a 22-minute oration that still blamed what's-his-face the Texas guy from nearly three years ago, did not contain the word retrenchment and was widely applauded by Windy City fans.Obama Birthday celebrated with a Hat at Mme Tussauds wax museum

Dick Durbin, another Illinois Democrat and the Senate's No. 2 ruling leader, said he's not giving up the fight for new taxes for government to spend. He wants on the new super Congress panel.

Vice President Joe Biden was out of public sight back at his Delaware home for a couple of days.

Obama's Press Secretary Jay Carney was pummeled today with questions on exactly what the president was doing to stop rising unemployment, restore consumer confidence and take control of what appears a chaotic Washington scene. Here's his reply;

"He is working very closely with his senior economic advisers to come up with new proposals to help advance growth and job creation."

Which, actually, is what many people thought the president had been doing all along during these 926 days of his presidency. To little economic effect, so far.

Carney also said Obama has planned several trips to talk with Americans about things. Sites include northern Virginia, the Midwest for a three-day bus tour and Michigan next week to talk about clean energy again.

The stock market plunge, however, was not expected to affect the White House's next pair of parties, a staff gathering this afternoon and another this evening with more friends and family to celebrate the aging Obama's well-documented birth a half-century ago today.

To help mark the happy occasion Michelle Obama sent out an email to millions of her husband's supporters. She didn't directly ask for money or mention the nation's ongoing financial troubles. She asked instead for people to sign an e-book of birthday wishes that the campaign is compiling, which will require leaving contact information.

"Every day," she said, "I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That's no small task for anyone -- and more proof that he's earning every last one of those gray hairs."

Just what every hubby wants to hear.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Mario Tama / Getty Images (New York Stock Exchange traders react to the market's plunge on President Obama's birthday, Aug. 4); Jim Young / Reuters (happy Obama at his first 50th birthday in Chicago); Win McNamee / Getty Images (Obama's birthday celebrated with a party hat at Madame Tussaud's wax museum).

 

No debt deal necessary for Obama's reelection campaign; he reports raising $86 million last quarter

Democrat president barack Obama enjoys an Oval Office phone call

He may have been leading from behind all spring in those nettlesome national debt reduction talks with congressional Republicans.

Unemployment may be back up to 9.2%. But President Obama is doing great up front where it counts in the political fundraising business to keep his own job in next year's election.

In a video emailed to supporters early this morning, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said the Democrat's bid for four more years in the Oval Office would report raising more than $47 million for the old Organizing for America outfit. And another $38 million-plus for the Democratic National Committee. All from 552,462 donors, Messina said.

All campaigns' fundraising numbers for the April-June quarter are due into the Federal Election Commission on Friday, unless they get an exemption for starting late, as Jon Huntsman did.

Obama's campaign donation total is chump change compared to the trillions in budget cuts he claims to be negotiating with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The reported $86 million dwarfs the anticipated quarter totals of his Republican challengers such as former Govs. Mitt Romney at $18 million and Tim Pawlenty and Huntsman around $4 million each.

Not counting Michele Bachmann, who has been a top congressional fundraiser but not yet announced her haul, the Republican field combined has raised around $35 million. An independent committee supporting Romney has collected another $12 million.

Messina claims that the Democrat needs a whole lot more money to compete with what he said could be "as much as" $500 million from outside committees supporting Republicans.

Originally, Obama campaign aides talked of a $1 billion campaign on behalf of their boss. But they have since scaled that back closer to the $745 million he raised for the 2008 campaign, which he won, in case you hadn't noticed.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Pete Souza / White House

Healthy-eating advocate Michelle Obama downs 1,700 calorie lunch: A burger, fries and shake (chocolate)

It's good to be first lady.

MichelleObamaoffAF1shorts09EdtdtoherapMichelle Obama has become the nation's foremost advocate for restaurant menu reform and healthier eating to reduce obesity, especially among children. 

She has made much of the need for Americans to routinely pack away fewer calories and carbs, more veggies, fruits -- that sort of stuff.

Plus, of course, get more exercise.

But alas one of those annoying media types, a reporter from the Washington Post, happened to be on the scene in Washington today.

Of course, it's hard to miss when a busy street and a new diner are totally shut down to the public for its normal bustling traffic of lunch-hour customers for the benefit of one VIP eater.

While her husband was telling the country it's time to eat its peas and address the staggering national deficit, Mrs. Obama went out for lunch.

But the healthy-eating advocate was nabbed doing 60 in a 35 zone: At today's lunch Mrs. Obama downed a good-sized ShackBurger.

And french fries.

And a milk shake of the chocolate variety.

According to the Shake Shack's website, that adds up to a whopping 1,700 calories for one meal.

Obama has said that occasional indulgences are OK. This obviously was one.

And Obama may have forgotten that today is July 11 as in 7/11 or 7-Eleven. As such, it is the annual midsummer day when that national convenience store chain offers free Slurpees over in the sticky-floor corner.

However, to make up for the 1,700-calorie indulgence, the first lady did cut back on the cals for her second luncheon drink. She had a diet Coke.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of health, don't forget to follow The Ticket's Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Associated Press (First Lady Obama leaves Air Force One on a vacation).

Weekly remarks: Obama creating jobs by federal help; Renee Ellmers creating jobs by less regulation

Obama embraces Whoopi Goldberg at a Democratic fundraiser in New York 6-23-11

President Obama's weekly remarks, as provided by the White House

Hello, everybody. Earlier this week, I spoke about our way forward in Afghanistan, and I said that because of the extraordinary work of our men and women in uniform, civilians, and our coalition partners, we will soon begin bringing our troops home, just as we’ve begun doing in Iraq. After a decade of conflict, we’re finally bringing these wars to a responsible end.

That’s in the best interests of America’s security. And it’s also in the best interests of America’s economy. Even though we’ve turned our economy in the right direction over the past couple of years, many Americans are still hurting, and now is the time to focus on nation-building here at home.

Of course, there’s been a real debate about where to invest and where to cut, and I’m ...

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Michelle Obama's magical family tour of Africa

Michelle Obama, her mother, friends and family arrive in Botswana Friday 6-24-11

We haven't seen First Lady Michelle Obama gardening or giving speeches at fundraisers this week.

Michelle Obama kicks a soccer ball around in a Cape Town gym 6-23-11Michelle Obama confronts a traditional dancer in Botswana 6-24-11That's because she's on a weeklong summer tour of Africa with her mother, daughters, friends and other family members.

In the photo above, the entourage has just arrived Friday in Botswana on a U.S. government plane and was greeted by some traditional dancers.

One of the male dancers  then got up close (right), to the delight of Mrs. Obama, although apparently not so much to her mother, Marian Robinson (on the left).

In Cape Town, Obama (above left) kicked a soccer ball around with some youngsters.

During their three-day South Africa trip, Obama and her daughters, Sasha and Malia, read to some children in Johannesburg (below).

The family entourage will now disappear for a day on a private safari experience.

The first lady is due back in Washington on Sunday.

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Michelle Malia and Sasha Obama read to annesburg Johchildren 6-21-11

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle.Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Michelle Obama, her mother, daughters, friends and family arrive in Botswana and are greeted by traditional dancers. Credit: Charles Dharapak / AFP/Getty Images; Obama kicks a soccer ball around in a Cape Town gym. Credit: Rodger Bosch / AFP/Getty Images; The Obamas read to children in Johannesburg. Credit: Charles Dharapak / AFP/Getty Images

South African president snubs Michelle Obama, but she carries on to Botswana and her safari

Michelle Obamas motorcade in Soweto 6-22-11

Well, who wants to meet the president of South Africa anyway?

First Lady Michelle Obama is on a weeklong tour of Africa with her mother, her daughters, a niece and a nephew, billed as part of her ongoing youth outreach efforts.

Obama's first stop was South Africa, where she's been telling young women to combat AIDs and gender violence, visiting museums and reading to youngsters with Sasha and Malia, who have been kept largely out of the official and diplomatic spotlight until this summer vacation opportunity.Michelle Obama talking to young South African women 6-22-11

However, in what is being reported internationally as a clear snub, on her Monday arrival South African President Jacob Zuma sent his minister of prisons to greet the American first lady.

Tuesday, Mrs. Obama was granted a few minutes with one of President Zuma's three wives.

Presidential aides denied any intentional snub. They said the president simply didn't have a moment to spare for Mrs. Obama at any time during her three-day visit and that she had rejected a time today because she was busy.

During Mrs. Obama's trip to Mexico, President Felipe Calderon and his wife held a state dinner in her honor.

Mrs. Obama and her family entourage -- her mother Marian Robinson, her daughters Sasha and Malia, and her niece Leslie Robinson and her nephew Avery Robinson -- did get a brief audience with 92-year-old former president Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel. She is a former first lady of Mozambique.

It is perhaps no coincidence that President Zuma's unavailability is tied to his anger over a public suggestion last week by Secy. of State Hillary Clinton, another former first lady. In a speech Clinton urged African leaders to increase their pressure for the ouster of Libya's Col. Moammar Kadafi.

Zuma told parliament, "We strongly believe that the (UN) resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation."

From South Africa Mrs. Obama and her family move on to Botswana, where they will participate in a private safari later this week.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Stephane de Sakutin / AFP / Getty Images (Michelle Obama's official motorcade moves through the streets of Soweto, June 22); Alexander Joe / AFP / Getty Images (Obama talks to young South African women, June 22).

Ticket pic of the week: Here's one Obama who's shovel-ready

Michelle Obama wields a shovel building a new playground in Washington 6-15-11

You know, maybe as the photographer you want to stand back a little bit farther.

First Lady Michelle Obama doesn't look too happy this week as she helps build a school playground in Washington.

However, this coming week she is taking her mother and two daughters on a weeklong visit to Africa, with stops and public events in South Africa and Botswana and including a private safari experience.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photo: Yuri Gripas / Reuters (Michelle Obama works on a school playground in Washington, June 15).

Barack Obama admits thinking like a Republican on some days, at least about leaving after one term

Michelle Obama in Beverly Hills 6-13-11

Some surprisingly good news for the assembling posse of Republicans angling for the White House:

Barack Obama says he's good with their idea of him serving only one term.

The Democrat admitted to NBC's Ann Curry that some times are more difficult than others in the Oval Office."There are days where I say that one term is enough," the aging president said in an interview broadcast the morning after the first GOP debate in New Hampshire.

Obama added:

Michelle and the kids are wonderful in that if I said, 'You know, guys, I want to do something different,' they'd be fine. They're not invested in daddy being president or my husband being president.

Neither, it seems, is the growing field of Republican challengers and millions of Americans expressing increased disapproval of Obama's job performance. According to Gallup, this president's average approval in 2011 so far is 46%, down from last year's 47.3%.

In the week ending June 12, Obama's job approval was 46%, down from 50% the previous week, while his disapproval was 44%, up from 42%.Obama debarks Air Force One from Puerto Rico 6-14-11

Dissatisfaction with his job on the economy seems especially high with nearly two-out-of-three disapproving. It must have something to do with gas prices being up 104% since he became president, the national debt growing by 35% to $14.3 trillion and unemployment jumping from 7.3% on his Inauguration Day to 9.1% lately.

Coincidentally, in the same time period Obama's approval has tumbled from 69%.

However, Obama's one-term thinking is just TV talk. While seven debating Republicans were trying to finish a complete sentence or two between John King's interruptions on CNN Monday evening, Obama was doing three fundraisers in Miami , with another offshore Tuesday in Puerto Rico.

At the same time Michelle Obama seems pretty invested in her husband's reelection, doing a string of her own political money harvests on the West Coast.

Obama, who turns a half-century old this summer, added in his NBC interview that what keeps him going on tough days is thinking of all the many things he still wants to do on education and energy. And, no doubt, the fact that there's still a few hundred billion dollars he has yet to spend.

The president has shared some other notable ruminations. At one of those Florida funders, Obama made yet another of his promises. He vowed that 2012 will be the last time Americans see his name on a ballot.

And he claimed: "Frankly, Michelle would have been happy if I had just kept on teaching and writing books."

In recent days, Obama was also forced to step into the distracting mess surrounding the married New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has admitted talking and texting dirty with a half dozen women around the country and generously sharing cellphone photographs of himself snapped in unusual places.

Curry asked the president about that fellow Democrat. And Obama said if he was in Weiner's towel, he would resign.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Don't forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We're also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.

Photos: Mario Anzuoni / Reuters (Obama in Beverly Hills); Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press (Obama returns from Puerto Rico fundraiser, June 14).

Late-night jokes: Seeking better advice, Obama replaces top economic advisor with Magic 8-Ball

the AFLAC Duck

As The Ticket's 67,000-plus Twitter followers here and 6,900 Facebook fans here know, we regularly share our daily picks of the late-night jokes of interest, usually before broadcast each night. Feel free to pass them on to friends using the Share buttons above. Normally, we publish these on Monday mornings.

Conan: Apple founder Steve Jobs plans a new state-of-the-art corporate headquarters. Then in six months he’ll replace it with a slightly thinner headquarters with a crappy camera.steve Jobs in a thin photo

Leno: I don’t get how Washington works. We can't see Osama bin Laden’s death photo because it’s too explicit. But a congressman’s penis is OK.

Letterman: Hey, how about this Congressman Anthony Weiner guy. Is this amazing or what? It's the worst congressional scandal all week.

Conan: Congressman Weiner now admits to having affairs with six different women on email, Twitter and Facebook. Plus today he admitted an affair with three chickens on FarmVille.

Conan: New poll finds 51% of New York voters said Congressman Weiner should keep his seat. The other 49% think he should disinfect it.

Fallon: New York lawmakers proposed a new program to teach teenagers about....

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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