I always knew FLOTUS had it in her. Michelle Obama confronted a heckler at a fundraiser -- and not just from her lofty perch at the podium where she was giving a speech. She actually left her podium to speak to the heckler face to face. Mrs. Obama was talking about doing the right thing for our kids when gay rights activist Ellen Sturtz started shouting demands from the front of a crowd of 200 supporters. "One of the things I don't do well is this. Do you understand?" Mrs. Obama said. And then she stopped her speech to march right over to Ellen and look her in the eyes, up close.
From there, reporters present say FLOTUS told Ellen, "You can listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You decide. You have one choice." Damn! Did someone just swap C-SPAN with Bravo? Was Andy Cohen working behind the scenes? No wine was flung in anyone's faces, but the crowd cheered Mrs. Obama to return to her speech. As for Ellen Sturtz, she was shocked at the First Lady's response.
"She came right down in my face. I was taken aback," Ellen said. What, didn't see that coming? I know Mrs. O usually exudes social grace, like just about every other U.S. First Lady we've ever had. And it's not that surprising that Mrs. Obama refused to tolerate the heckler. (The phrase "doesn't suffer fools gladly" comes to mind.) But what threw Ellen is the way Ms. Obama confronted her so personally.
I love the way FLOTUS handled the situation, actually. Instead of nodding to security to escort Ellen out, she got up close to her adversary. What could be more intimidating? It's exactly what smart parents do -- rather than yelling, you get up close to your kid, look them in the eye, and tell them what's what in a calm, quiet voice. Confronting someone's bad behavior directly, assertively, but calmly puts you in a position of power. I think Ellen will think twice before interrupting another speech again. And I think everyone else will think twice before interrupting Michelle Obama again.
Ellen's cause may have been just. Apparently she was demanding that Obama issue an executive order protecting gay and transgender employees of federal contractors. Well, super, I can get behind that idea. Michelle would probably support it. But not if you're shouting at her in the middle of her speech! What are you, 5? Exercise a little self-control and wait for a moment when the First Lady will actually be receptive to your message. Jeebus. I guess Ellen thought the $500 ticket she bought for the event entitled her to interrupt the First Lady's speech. But it sure as hell doesn't.
I think we just got the most candid glimpse of the real Michelle Obama we've ever gotten. She's fierce, and she's in control. You know she pulls this same move with the President -- you know, the leader of the free world? I love it. I think my girl crush on her just got even bigger.
What do you think about how Michelle Obama handled her heckler?
Image via WhiteHouse.gov