Celebrating the Obamas' Marriage

In a Sunday Magazine cover story, Jodi Kantor celebrates the Obamas' marriage and again downplays Michelle Obama's controversial campaign remarks about being proud of her country "for the first time."

The Times has posted Jodi Kantor's 7,500-word cover profile of the Obamas' marriage that will appear in the Times Sunday Magazine this weekend.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Kantor got some unwanted attention after filing an unflattering profile of John McCain's wife Cindy when it was revealed she trawled Facebook for information about Mrs. McCain's children. Kantor's message to an unidentified person on Facebook included the charming requests, "we are trying to get a sense of what [Cindy McCain] is like as a mother" and "I'm trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends."

Kantor withheld that level of scrutiny from a laudatory profile of Michelle Obama, calling the future first lady's controversial "For the first time in my adult lifetime...I am really proud of my country" statement a "rhetorical stumble" and suggesting the media was overplaying it.

Kantor dialed down the adoration a bit this time around, but a few paragraphs of the upcoming magazine story come off sickeningly sweet:

But the Obamas mix politics and romance in a way that no first couple quite have before. Almost 10 months ago, they swept into Washington with inauguration festivities that struck distinctly wedding-like notes: he strode down an aisle and took a vow, she wore a long white dress, the youthful-looking couple swayed to a love song in a ceremonial first dance and then settled into a new house. Since then, photograph after official White House photograph has shown the Obamas gazing into each other's eyes while performing one or another official function. Here is a shot of the Obamas entering a Cinco de Mayo reception, his arm draped protectively around her back. Next, a photo of the president placing a kiss on his wife's cheek after his address on health care to Congress. Poster-size versions of these and other photographs are displayed in rotation along the White House corridors. It's hard to think of another workplace decorated with such looming evidence of affection between the principal players.

There's a tidbit near the end (evidently first revealed by Michael Wolff in Vanity Fair) showing Barack Obama was attacking Fox News even before he won the White House.

As the campaign accelerated after the first voting contests, Michelle Obama went from headlining intimate campaign events to enormous ones. Television cameras appeared, and some of her more forceful comments were endlessly replayed. When cable shows, bloggers and opponents fixated on her - on her supposed lack of patriotism, her supposedly angry streak - Barack was irate. As unflattering reports played on television, he would tell aides stories about her parents, about her as a mother, according to Gibbs, as if defending his wife in private could somehow help. Barack even met with the Fox executives Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes in part to insist that they treat her more respectfully.

Kantor again downplayed Michelle Obama's controversial remarks, not even quoting Obama while using the qualifier "supposed" to imply that Michelle Obama was being unjustly criticized.