The Obama campaign went into mild damage-control mode this week because Barack’s wife, Michelle Obama, said her husband must win Iowa — if not, then the campaign is “just a dream.” Obama’s people say she was ginning up the ground troops (the remark was made in Iowa). But guess what: She’s right. Obama needs to be a massive hit in Iowa. Aided by the Republicans who use her as a fundraising scarecrow, Hillary Clinton has been incredibly successful acting like she’s already been nominated — her lead is continuing to widen. If she aces Iowa, the self-fulfilling prophesy of her candidacy will just domino from there. (This is how we ended up with Kerry in 2004.) There’s no shame in framing Iowa as a do-or-die state for Obama — in fact, saying it out loud right now could be a shrewd move that will get more non-Iowans to come down and work the state. More importantly, though, the incident highlights why Michelle Obama is our single favorite thing about this entire campaign season.
She doesn’t do the hushed, wifey tones that are the default setting for her peers; neither is she a soap-opera powder keg. Michelle’s trademark, by now, is common sense
— not folksiness or realpolitik, but Actual Common Sense. She famously told USA Today that Barack is not the “next messiah who’s going to fix it all. In the end, he’s just a man.” (Wait, isn’t that a Mary Magdalene lyric from Jesus Christ Superstar? And if so, doesn’t that make Barack … the messiah? Ask the Agenda folks — they may have an opinion.) Just about the worst thing the Obama campaign can do right now, in their palpable fear of Dean-esque flameout, is gag Michelle. We say, give us more: She obviously knows what she’s doing. This is a woman who mentored her future husband, for chrissakes, at Sidley & Austin when she was an associate and he a summer intern. If you want a quiet, demure political spouse, there’s always Bill Clinton.