Assessing a celebrity’s star power is most easily done at an awards show in front of a big audience.
Applause levels never lie.
At last night’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, host Alicia Keys brought a quartet of very famous women onto the stage and introduced them one-by-one to the crowd.
Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith all got varying degrees of warm ovations.
But the fourth lady sent the whole place into spontaneous shrieking hysterical meltdown.
It was like the Beatles had just reformed, with John and George springing miraculously back to life.
What made the reaction all the more extraordinary is that the subject of this mass adulation was not even a musician.
In fact, her only claim to fame is that she is married to a man who was President of the United States.
But make no mistake: this was a stunning moment of confirmation that Michelle Obama is now not just the biggest star in America (move over, Oprah..) – she is also the country’s most popular human being.
Her autobiography ‘Becoming’ has become a publishing phenomenon since it was released three months ago, enjoying the longest run at No. 1 on Amazon of any tome by any public figure in the online retail giant’s history.
In fact, it’s become the most successful book of any kind since Fifty Shades of Grey came out in 2012.
Michelle has sold out countless arenas on her global book tour, with audiences behaving more like crazed fans at rock concerts than literary types. And she has milked the frenzy with effortless class and glamour.
Last night, she looked like a superstar in a dazzling Sachin & Babi outfit, and talked like a superstar – extolling the uniquely unifying virtues of music that ‘helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes, our joys.’
The cameras cut to people actually crying in the audience.
There aren’t many people who can do that to a crowd, especially in the political world.
The only tears Hillary Clinton ever induced in people were tears of Republican laughter when she played the vote-destroying ‘basket of deplorables’ card, and tears of Democrat despair when she eventually lost.
As the astounding Grammys response to Michelle Obama grew ever more raucous, she pleaded with the audience to calm down, with the entreaty: ‘We’ve got a show to do!’
But she’d already STOLEN the show.
I watched all this unfurl with fascination and it took me back to 2008 when I first saw Barack Obama in the flesh at a fundraiser in LA.
He emerged from the Beverly Wilshire hotel, where I was living at the time, to several thousand people going absolutely nuts.
It was a startling affirmation of his rising superstar status, and as I watched him work the crowd like a black Mick Jagger, I realised Obama was heading to the White House.
Last night, I got the same feeling stirring inside me watching his wife work the equally excited Grammys crowd.
Michelle Obama isn’t running for President.
In fact, she has stated repeatedly that she has absolutely no desire to run for President.
And yet… why WOULDN’T she run for President?
The Democrats have spent the past two years screaming about Donald Trump, but now they have to actually find a person who can beat him in 20 months time, and the clock is ticking.
What’s overwhelmingly obvious about the current rapidly expanding crop of the party’s candidates is how UNDER-whelming they all are.
Elizabeth Warren has depth-charged her own campaign before it even started by lying about her Native American credentials.
(Note to other Democrats thinking of running: if you’re going to position yourself as a morally superior candidate to Trump, you can’t be a flagrant fibber about your racial heritage..)
Cory Booker’s a smart personable guy – but he’s no Barack Obama.
Kamala Harris is many people’s front-runner, but she lacks that soul-stirring quality any candidate needs to rouse a large electorate.
Others who’ve so far put their names forward, like Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard and Julian Castro, make Harris look positively electrifying.
The latest to say ‘I’m running’, Amy Klobuchar, seems to be a nasty piece of work with anger management issues, whose ugly history of abusing staff is likely to bar any path to nomination.
Bernie Sanders wants to go again, but even he knows that a ranting old socialist is never going to win in 2020.
As for Joe Biden, who I think would be a great candidate, there remain serious doubts whether he actually wants to run and his advancing age – he’s 76 now, and would be 78 before the next presidential inauguration – may deter him, or ultimately deter voters.
So who CAN beat Trump?
Well, I suggest Michelle Obama has exactly what it takes to defeat The Donald.
At 55, she’s 17 years younger than him but old enough to avoid the poisoned chalice tag of ‘youthful’.
She’s very smart, very beautiful, very savvy and very self-confident.
And after eight years in the White House as First Lady, Michelle knows more about Washington and how it all really works than all the other candidates put together.
Michelle has the natural warmth and empathy that Hillary so badly lacked.
Crucially, she also has a very thick skin – an absolutely vital tool in any battle with a hyper-aggressive pugilist like Trump.
I met her once, at a White House media Christmas party, and was so impressed by how she so skillfully and charmingly handled the thousands of people lining up to meet her and Barack, many of whom had spent the year being savagely critical of them both.
And then of course there’s her aforementioned husband.
Barack Obama is arguably the second most beloved public figure in America, after Michelle.
He’s also a brilliant election campaigning genius, who I’m sure would secretly like nothing more than helping to exact glorious revenge on Trump via his wife.
Add him to the mix, and you suddenly have the most potent double-edged electoral weapon available to the Democrats.
They just have to somehow persuade Michelle to run.
I don’t know if she is persuadable or not, but I do know she stands a way better chance of beating Trump in 2020 than any of the other names who have so far declared an interest in being candidates.
And I suspect her loathing of Trump might well override her dislike of the idea of running, if she is convinced she is really the best hope to win.
Statistically, as we know from her book sales, Michelle Obama is the biggest thing in America since Fifty Shades of Grey.
And she may just be the one person in the country who can give Donald Trump a spanking at the ballot box.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Piers Morgan