Barack Obama famously advocated term limits both in the United States and across the world. But in this poignant March clip from Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast, the former first lady shares how fame and fortune changes one’s relationship with fellow citizens over time.
Michelle Obama: What Barack and I talk about that we do miss is, and you will understand this, is the loss of anonymity. And that’s something that most people don’t understand, how valuable anonymity is. Being able to blend into your environment and not be the center of it, but just to observe it. Because that’s really where… and because I love people so much. I love casual conversations with people. I loved, while I love my time in the car alone in Chipotle, I loved also what you learn standing in a grocery store line and overhearing someone’s conversation.
Michelle Obama: Watching their interactions with their loved one, and not being the watch-ee, but watching. And taking that in and understanding life and the observations that come. Most of your interaction with your partner is about what you saw, what you experienced over the course of the day. For Barack and I, that’s still very limited because we’re not able to be exposed in an anonymous way. Just watching people live their lives.
Michelle Obama: And we’re always watched at this stage. And both Barack and I, what you learn about the world comes from that. Which is why, another reason why, I wouldn’t run. I don’t live a normal life. I used to, and I am a very… Normal is baked into me because of how I was raised. But I also know the life I’ve lived for the last 10 years is no longer normal. And so I don’t know as much as I would want to, to be in a position of leadership. To kind of know what are you feeling? Because you can’t experience life behind a tinted window in a car. So we sacrificed that and that’s not a complaint, but if I’m going to be a leader, I got to be in there.
Michelle Obama: I got to be able to be in there, overhearing people’s truths and really being able to see their pain without it being filtered through the veil of me. And that’s why I think it’s… Eight years is enough. It is enough. It’s time for new ideas and people who’ve been in the Chipotle line, and people who are struggling in ways that we just, because of the nature of what we’ve done, we don’t do that anymore.
Michelle Obama: We need fresh, real clear eyes in this stuff.