Michelle Obama, as photographed by the legendary Annie Leibovitz, appears on the December issue of Vogue magazine. The first lady, in the waning days of her husband’s presidency, has been making a farewell tour since about mid-summer. In addition to the always captivating visual portraits captured by Leibovitz, writer Jonathan Van Meter handles painting the verbal portrait of Obama as she closes out her final few months in the White House. He talked to numerous people on her staff and President Obama to draw a picture of who the nation has come to know these last eight years — “America’s conscience, role model, and mother in chief” — but no one can quite capture who she is better than the woman herself, in her own words. And those words provide the most insightful portions of the profile — particularly when Van Meter asked Obama to reflect on the end of this chapter of her life.
A wistful Obama sighed. “You know, there are little . . . moments. Even today I was looking out at this view here. Looking out on the South Lawn and the Washington Monument and it had just rained and the grass was really green and everything popped a little bit more. It’s soooo beautiful. And for that moment I thought, I’m going to miss waking up to this, having access to this anytime I want. But on the flip side … it’s time,” she said. “I think our democracy has it exactly right: two terms, eight years. It’s enough. Because it’s important to have one foot in reality when you have access to this kind of power. The nature of living in the White House is isolating.”
She continued, “And I think Barack and I — because we’re kind of stubborn — we’ve maintained some normalcy, mostly because of the age of our kids. I go out to dinner with my girlfriends; I go to Sasha’s games; Barack has coached a little basketball with Sasha’s team. But at the same time, when you can’t walk into CVS?” Van Meter then reminds her that a CVS is located just a block away. “But I always think, Fun for me! But a complete hassle for my Secret Service agents,” she said, before adding, “When you’re not engaged in the day-to-day struggles that everybody feels, you slowly start losing touch. And I think it’s important for the people in the White House to have a finger on the pulse.”
Read the full story and see the Leibovitz photos at Vogue.