Just as she did at the start of her husband's first term as president, first lady Michelle Obama opened the doors of the White House to famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for a cover story.
This time, joined by the president for a portrait showing off their comfortable relationship and the first lady's famous biceps, Michelle Obama talked about the challenges of Washington culture, normalcy and parenting in the center of the hyper-secure bubble of the White House, the importance of family and learning to roll with the punches.
Addressing charges that they don't play the Washington boardroom game enough, the Obamas are quick to remind "Vogue" reporter Jonathan Van Meter that raising their kids is, and has always been, their top priority.
"The stresses and the pressures of this job are so real that when you get a minute, you want to give that extra energy to your fourteen- and eleven-year-old,” she said.
"Our job is, first and foremost, to make sure our family is whole," she said. You know, we have small kids; they’re growing every day. But I think we were both pretty straightforward when we said, ‘Our number-one priority is making sure that our family is whole.’ ”
Unlike then-Senator Obama's "bachelor pad" apartment ("I told you it was a dump," the first lady said. "It did end up catching on fire," admitted the president.), the first couple are now enjoying their meals and listening to their iPods amid the opulence and history of a sacred public monument.
“It is true that I don’t get too high or I don’t get too low, day to day,” the president says. “Partly because I try to bring to the job a longer-term time frame. I’m a history buff, and I know that big changes take time. But I also know that, setting politics aside, usually things are never as good as you think they are or as bad as you think they are. And that has served me well temperamentally.”
But for all his calm, his famous "Hawaiian mellowness," Michelle Obama said she thinks her husband strikes the right balance between being the president and checking the stresses at the door.
"When he walks through that door, he can let go of it all," she said. "That was one of the things I was worried about: How would politics affect this very decent, genuine, noble individual?"
"And there is just something about his spirit that allows all that stuff to stay on the outside. It just doesn’t penetrate his soul.”
The April issue of "Vogue" hits newstands March 26.