The impromptu dance that first lady Michelle Obama did at a school in Mumbai when she accompanied President Barack Obama on his India trip in 2010 was stage managed by the White House staff so as to send a positive image throughout the world, a new book has claimed.
“In Mumbai, while the President was in discussions on trade relations between the two countries, the first lady visited a group of orphans and runaways, kicking off her shoes to play hopscotch with them, dancing and shimmying to the beat of a song from a Bollywood movie,” wrote the New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor in her latest book The Obamas.
“The first lady’s staff knew the formula by now: put Michelle Obama in a roomful of kids—especially kids who were outsiders in one way or another—just let them interact, and they were likely to end with a moment that generated warm, positive images and video,” Cantor wrote.
“All we had to do was set the stage,” Melissa Winter, her deputy chief of staff, said later according to the book, which has been described as highly exaggerated by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“The images that beamed around the world, of the first lady elegantly defying convention and caste, were the opposite of the ones from her Spain trip,” the author writes.
“She looked joyful, accessible, down-to-earth — value added,” she approvingly told her team later, says the book.
“Value-added was a favorite Michelle-ism, one of the highest compliments she gave. It meant that the moments were beneficial to the administration; that they helped the president in some way,” Cantor said.