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When “Saturday Night Live” first started making jokes about Mitt Romney in the late 1990s, there was an obvious difference between the GOP candidate’s campaign and the reality of most people’s lives: Romney wasn’t just struggling to make ends meet; Romney was struggling more to avoid them.
In “The First Family Detail,” a new profile of Michelle Obama by Vanity Fair, Obama writes that a lot of people “don’t realize that there are two different Obama families: Those that are struggling, including the couple in the book, and those that are financially independent.”
As she sees it, Obama’s middle-class upbringing is similar to Obama son, Malia, who grew up in a small town before getting admitted to Harvard. But while Obama’s family was “living it up,” she says, Malia’s was living it down. “They weren’t having fun,” she says, a criticism both Barack Obama and his sister had leveled at their parents. “We know that that’s not a healthy thing in America for a child.”
Michelle Obama is the oldest of three kids from a fairly modest background. Her parents’ money comes almost exclusively from the public schools their son attended, and her father worked in finance, as did her mother. When they divorced, she and her new husband, Marc Mezvinsky, worked with a financial adviser, and after their divorce, Michelle has taken on a lot of the financial responsibilities.
But her middle-class upbringing is the one part of her life she can’t change. Her mother, who still makes a reasonable paycheck, raised five sons (six if some is counted as sons). Some of those sons graduated from a variety of elite universities, some served in the military, and two have gone on to business ventures. Two more sons are now working in the news business.
As a result, Michelle Obama doesn’t have the image the Obamas do of a “poverty mom” or “middle-class dad” who raised a successful family and took on some small-business jobs.
But she does have a lot of “free time,” which she spends working on her own projects, writing her blog and mentoring other young people, and occasionally playing volleyball, even while attending Yale and Harvard School of Public Health.
“My parents are really into their kids,”
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