alison-thurston_web.jpgMichelle Obama has recently been roasted by conservative political pundits, and even some liberal media outlets, as some sort of modern-day Marie Antoinette for taking a vacation in southern Spain. It is just one more instance of Michelle getting an undue amount of criticism from the press.

There is a lot of weight on the first Lady’s well-toned shoulders. She is expected to act as an unpaid ambassador to international dignitaries. She must present her own platform for American families, though it is far less controversial than her husband’s and consists of agreeable platitudes about staying active and being “green.
The First Lady deserves a break and, considering that aside from the flight on Air Force Two, the trip was paid for from her personal accounts, it’s nobody’s business whether she travels internationally or not.

I’ll concede that, as a fellow Princetonian, I might be biased towards Ms. Obama. But can it be fair to criticize the woman for her vacations, for her “terrorist” fist jabs, and for — and this has only happened on campus — not having enough school spirit and “hating Princeton”?

I think that our First Lady is doing a great job — at whatever her job is — but she’s had to give up a lot to play the conventional First Lady role, including her career, which is no small sacrifice.

Nowadays, she gives softball interviews about her domestic life and critical issues like how to make the crispest summer salad. But, once upon a time, this woman was a lawyer and an executive at one of the nation’s biggest research institutes, the University of Chicago Hospitals.

If she needs to cut loose from her current constraints and if it takes a transatlantic flight to accomplish that, then by all means, our FLOTUS should be able to do so.  Last weekend’s trip to the Gulf Coast with the President should be enough penance for enjoying a more exotic locale.

Let’s focus on the real news in the future.

Alison Thurston may be reached at