Back in June, the New York Times hinted that Michelle Obama (or at least, her “image”) might be, um, in need of a makeover (Mrs. Obama “looks for a new introduction.”)

In August, the Times weighed in approvingly on Mrs. Obama’s progress, dubbing her “now a softer presence.”

And today, one week before the election, the Times declares Mrs. Obama — oh, happy day — “no longer a novice.” Michelle Obama, you’ve come so far! You are, the Times reports, now “cautious and disciplined” and the campaign has “confidence” in you and “deploys” you where it matters most!”

Minus, that is, with the media.

Still, the Obama campaign has limited interviews that would entail tough questions from national newspapers and cable news programs. “There is not one vote she will get from doing Wolf Blitzer,” an aide said.

(Blitzer’s mom?)

And still:

By the standards of a national political campaign, Mrs. Obama does maintain a somewhat limited schedule…Most of the time she is at home taking care of the couple’s 10- and 7-year-old daughters, a choice that advisers hope will pay dividends among women of all races who can relate to her priorities.

And a choice that Mrs. Obama, presumably, hopes will “pay dividends among” her daughters themselves. But yes, tactics, tactics, strategy and what “advisers hope” first and foremost. And isn’t it great that Mrs. Obama is now so presentable? Just in time.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.