First Lady Michelle Obama sits with students during a visit to the LAMB bilingual school.White House flickr streamHer husband got dealt a difficult set of cards in taking over the post-Bush II presidency–and has arguably played them quite badly. He now finds himself in a tight political corner: caught between an emboldened Right, an angry Left, and a shrivelled middle.

But Michelle Obama abides, as fabulous and beloved by the electorate as ever. She has built up a tidy store of political capital. She plans to spend it “by spearheading an initiative to reduce childhood obesity that, she hopes, will create a legacy by which she can be remembered,” reports Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times.

Reducing childhood obesity is a goal that few could argue with. But really it’s an appealing way to frame a massive problem with powerful vested interests behind it: a food system that churns out low-quality, environmentally ruinous food and robust profits for a few companies.

If the First Lady plans to confront the issue in a serious way, she’ll soon be knocking heads with those very companies. She has already gotten a taste of the coming pushback, just by planting an organic garden.

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It will take every iota of Ms. Obama’s considerable grace, smarts, and popular appeal to “move the ball” (as she puts it) on the diet-related maladies that confront the nation’s children. The sustainable food movement has never had a more appealing or high-profile champion.


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