Having taped their shows prior to the current occupant of the White House openly spill his super-villainous plan to “get rid of the ballots,” not commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November election, and essentially declare everything America supposedly stands for null and void at the whims of a racist reality show clown, the Wednesday late-night shows were free to book guests as if we were just facing the normal roster of environmental, political, social, and healthcare crises. So for anyone looking to former First Lady and woman voted least likely to wear a jacket scrawled with “I really don’t care, do U?” when visiting one of her husband’s child concentration camps Michelle Obama to address Donald Trump’s now-nude ambitions to un-American dictatorship, Wednesday’s Conan appearance might serve as a disappointment.
Still, it was enjoyable watching Obama goof on Conan’s shaggy quarantine hair, tell stories about her then-boyfriend Barack’s basketball court family tryout in front of her protective brother Craig, and explain how White House living never changed her perpetually unimpressed mother Marian one bit. (“Didn’t I already meet the Pope?,” is how Obama claims her mom greeted a possible family trip to the Vatican.) Mrs. Obama also assured Conan that the Obamas are just your typical American COVID-lockdown family, in that early days of welcome togetherness and family art projects have given way, after half a year, to grunting, bored children and a husband locked away working on his memoirs. “We’re still together and he’s still alive,” is all Mrs. Obama could do to reassure Conan O’Brien that her marriage to the former President is holding steady.
When the two did talk politics, Obama was circumspect in calling out Donald Trump’s many, many, many abuses, disgraces, and [insert synonym for “disgraces”], only obliquely referencing “this sitting President.” (Perhaps the phrase “President Donald Trump” just gets rejected by any rational mind out of self-preservation. Just a theory.) At any rate, Obama told Conan that her main focus has been ensuring that all Americans get the message that the upcoming elections represent the most important choice in memory that Americans will make regarding the future of our tottering democracy. Through her organization When We All Vote, Mrs. Obama explained that her focus has been all about mobilizing people to actually give a crap about the future of the country for a change (paraphrasing there), and realizing that sitting out the 2020 election just isn’t an option. Referencing her time as First Lady, Obama noted ominously, “I’ve seen other forms of government.” You know, like—just spitballing here—farcically corrupt, self-dealing, authoritarian ethno-states run by megalomaniacal little half-men willing to do literally anything to cling to power.
Speaking of Mrs. Obama’s team of When We All Vote activists, O’Brien concluded the interview by once more Zoom-bombing another gathering of unsuspecting young people. And while the fresh-faced volunteers strategizing how to get out the vote were pretty tickled to see Conan’s floppy-haired kisser pop up on their computers, it was his expertly nonchalant introduction of “a friend” to the chat that scored the pricelessly overjoyed reaction shots. “What are you guys talkin’ about?,” asked Obama to the suddenly open-mouthed stares of the volunteers, offering just the sort of pick-me-up voting rights activists beleaguered by GOP voter suppression, historically American voter apathy, and the potential loss of everything their young, still-hope-filled hearts still hold dear. If anything is going to keep idealistic young activists (and the rest of us) going as we enter this final stretch, it’s a Coach Taylor-level inspirational speech from Michelle Obama.