In a stunning interview with Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama admitted that her husband’s presidency, which began with a promise to usher in hope and change, failed to leave Americans with a lasting sense of hope for the future. Clips of the interview, which is scheduled to air on CBS next week, were released by the broadcast network on Friday morning.
“Your husband’s administration, everything, the election, was all about hope,” Winfrey asked the soon-to-be-former First Lady. “Do you think that this administration achieved that?”
“Yes,” Obama tentatively answered. After a long a pause, she elaborated, “I do, because we feel the difference now.”
She then contradicted her strained answer and noted that despite everything the president accomplished in the White House over the last eight years, many Americans nonetheless still have no hope.
“See, now we’re feeling like what not having hope feels like,” Obama said in an apparent reference to the 2016 election results.
During the interview, Obama bounced back and forth between saying her husband’s administration had indeed achieved the hope and change he had promised during the 2008 campaign, that this sense of hope created by the 44th president was no longer present due to the election results, and that hope was necessary to survive.
At one point, the First Lady seemed to intimate that hope is derived not necessarily from faith, peace and prosperity, constitutionally protected freedoms, or even government programs, but from whatever particular individual happens to inhabit the White House at any given time. She said people react to their leaders the same way children’s react to their parents: if a parent overreacts, the child will learn to overreact. If a parent is hopeful, the children will be hopeful, she said.
“What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?” she asked.
“I feel like Barack has been [the calm parent who doesn’t overreact to small things] for the nation in ways that people will come to appreciate,” Obama told Winfrey. “Having a grown-up in the White House who can say to you in times of crisis and turmoil, ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.'”
“What do we do if we don’t have hope, Oprah?” Obama asked again at the conclusion of the clip.
You can view the full clip released by CBS on Friday here.