This week the White House released the much-anticipated official Obama family photo on its Flickr page. The portrait was taken in the Green Room of the White House on September 1 by famed Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz, notable for her decades of work capturing the images of rock stars and Hollywood’s elite as well as for her multimillion-dollar fortune’s recent collapse. The seated and beaming first family looks happy and relaxed, with Sasha and Malia Obama each draping an arm over mom and dad.
Michelle Obama style-watchers may want to note she’s not in a sleeveless dress: The bare arms in her solo official portrait caused a minor stir when it was released last February.
The portrait adds to a flurry of Michelle Obama publicity this week. On Wednesday she hosted a “healthy kids fair” for approximately 100 Washington D.C.-area schoolchildren on the South Lawn of the White House. During the event, part of her ongoing effort to educate children about the importance of proper diet and exercise, the first lady wowed onlookers by swiveling a Hula-Hoop 142 times before it finally hit the ground. Not quite done there, Mrs. Obama also took off her shoes to run an obstacle course with hurdles.
Also on the agenda: tackling the 10 questions segment of “The Jay Leno Show” on Friday night. The rapid-fire “Ten @ Ten” questions — fielded recently by Justin Timberlake, Sen. John McCain, Tom Cruise, and LeBron James — have made for some water-cooler conversations after the show, which has been tanking in the ratings of late. Mrs. Obama’s appearance with Leno is notable but certainly not unusual, as former first lady Laura Bush appeared as a guest on “The Tonight Show” when it was hosted by Leno during her husband’s presidency.
Also this week, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that the American people view Michelle much more favorably than they do her husband or Vice President Joe Biden, a change from the numbers just after the first family took up residence in the White House.
Approval numbers for the president, meanwhile, have been sliding; the USAToday/Gallup poll notes that Obama is viewed favorably by 55 percent of respondents, down from 68 perecent just after the election. Insiders were quick to note when Laura Bush raised her profile during the last days of her husband’s embattled term; similarly, her successor’s PR efforts are getting noticed.