Why Michelle Obama is talking about her husband's gray hair

As First Lady Michelle Obama publicizes her chosen issue, childhood obesity, she keeps dropping in humanizing details about her husband. Yes, he has gray hair. And boring fashion sense.

Peter Kramer / NBC Universal, Inc. / AP
First Lady Michelle Obama appears on the 'Today' show with Matt Lauer, in New York, Feb. 8. She has made the interview rounds to promote her anti-obesity campaign, 'Let's Move!,' and is providing warm anecdotes about her husband along the way.

Yes, Michelle Obama is the nation’s first lady. And lately she's rocked the 'image softener-in-chief' part of her job description.

Mrs. Obama has been conducting a round of TV interviews in recent days, appearing on everything from NBC’s “Today” show to the Pentagon Channel to promote her campaign to fight obesity among kids. And at pretty much every stop she has dropped interesting tidbits about her husband that may serve to soften and humanize him at a time when the 2012 campaign is beginning to take shape.

Take gray hair – the president has some. And it’s going to stay, since he does not use hair dye. That’s what the first lady told Matt Lauer on Wednesday, anyway. Mr. Lauer showed her a series of pictures which seemed to indicate that Mr. Obama’s hair was getting suspiciously darker, but Mrs. Obama waved those away.

“It’s lighting. No, I think that if he had known he would be president, he would have started dyeing his hair like ten years ago,” she said.

The first lady then went on to describe her husband as generally sartorially challenged – someone who finds something he likes and sticks to it, without any flair. By the time she was done, you’d have thought she was married to somebody who worked out of the house wearing slippers and flannel shirts.

“I wish he would focus more on a different color suit [or] a new shirt,” she said.

Then there’s the kicking-smoking thing. Mrs. Obama has told several interviewers that her husband has not had a puff in a year, and she’s proud of him. Not that she nagged him about stopping – oh, no. He simply got to the point where he did not want to have to disappoint Sasha and Malia if they asked him why he wouldn’t kick the habit, she says.

And he’s not sneaking into the Situation Room under the guise of a national security emergency to sneak cigarettes, either. Oh, no.

“I know he’s not. You can tell,” said his wife.

And those daughters – did we mention Obama has an adorable family? They’re not on Facebook, no. They’re not old enough for that. Instead, they spend all their time playing Angry Birds on their iPhones.

Just kidding – their mom did not say anything about video games. But the no-Facebook rule is true, according to her.

“It’s not something they need. It’s not necessary right now,” said Mrs. Obama.

Yes, we know that interviewers elicited some of these personal confessions by asking about them. Mrs. Obama did not bring them up unbidden – she wanted to talk about the alarming rate of fatness among kids instead, and how Matt Lauer might need to cut back on his kids’ tater tots. (They really did talk about that.)

But don't you think they have pre-interview meetings in the White House, discussing how to shape the conversation and what to say and how to say it? Of course they do, just as presidential administrations have done for decades. That’s what communications aides are for – talking points don’t write themselves.

And Republican wannabes are already jostling for position to try and kick the Obama family out of that nice big house they live in.

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