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May 1st, 2009
04:22 PM ET

Desirée Rogers’ brand Obama

Amy Chozick
The Wall Street Journal

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/28/first.lady/art.first.lady.jpg]

Desirée Glapion Rogers is the descendant of a Creole voodoo priestess named Marie Laveau Glapion. The first time I meet her, she welcomes me into her East Wing lair—a rhythm and blues tune plays on a white iPod, a potted white orchid perches between two windows, fresh flowers sit on a heavy wooden desk. This is a woman who never sees a wilted bloom. The 49-year-old turns on just enough Southern charm to camouflage an aura of self-assuredness typically reserved for runway models or first ladies. Wearing a crisp white shirt, black patent flats and high-waisted navy slacks that would look terrible on almost anyone else, Rogers talks about her job as White House social secretary.

If there’s one thing Desirée Rogers and Desirée Rogers’ staff want you to know—and will keep reminding you until you get it—it’s that the president and Michelle Obama plan to open up the White House and once again make it the “people’s house.” They want to create an environment where average Americans might stop by and catch the first lady serving homemade huckleberry cobbler and caramel ice cream to students, tending to the vegetable garden on the South Lawn or watching the romantic comedy “He’s Just Not That Into You” with her girlfriends. The president is, of course, meeting with foreign dignitaries. In one of the most visible roles in the Obama administration, Rogers is out to solidify the first family as one of the most memorable in presidential history, and the Ivy League–educated first lady, in particular, as the most popular mom-in-chief.

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