- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 30, 2009

Those eyes, those lips, and oh, that potential overexposure.

“Barack’s Beauties” have arrived at a time when the public is weary of intensely personal coverage of President Obama.

People magazine’s annual “100 Most Beautiful People” will showcase a glittering White House presence when it hits newsstands Friday as the magazine reveals the identity of “The President’s inner circle who are turning heads in D.C.”

“I’m not going to say there were no beauties in past administrations by any means, but we couldn’t help but notice a lot of head turners in this one,” said executive editor Liz Sporkin.

There are seven of them. Bo Obama, the much-anticipated family dog, did not make the list.

Neither did President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. nor the spate of rugged and handsome Secret Service guys that lurk on the White House roof.

First lady Michelle Obama is the centerpiece of it all. “The Fabulous First” folks roster also includes White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, personal aide Reggie Love, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, speechwriter Jon Favreau, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House chef Sam Kass.

The timing could be a little off, though.

“Americans say that the news media has devoted too much coverage to Barack Obama’s family and personal life during his first months as president,” said a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

More than half of the respondents - 53 percent - said there was too much press obsession with Mr. Obama’s personal life; 40 percent said the amount of coverage has been “about right” while 4 percent want more of it.

The overload is something that both sides of the aisle can agree upon.

“Most Republicans (56 percent) and independents (55 percent), as well as half of Democrats, say that Obama’s family and personal life has received too much coverage,” the survey said.

People correspondent Julie Jordan said the White House selections show that “it’s OK to be a consummate professional and still be easy on the eyes.”

Posing in lace, Mrs. Obama is seen in a black and white portrait by fashion photographer Marc Hom, who has also captured the images of Cher, Gwyneth Paltrow and Aretha Franklin, among other luminaries.

“The First Lady says growing up in a supportive household helped make her the confident woman she is today,” the caption reads.

” ‘I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day,’ says Obama, 45. ‘I grew up with very strong male role models who thought I was smart and fast and funny, so I heard that a lot. I know that there are many young girls who don’t hear it.’ ”

Mrs. Obama has been on the cover of 22 magazines in the past year, including Vogue, People, Oprah’s O magazine and several special publications. Last year alone, her husband made the cover of Time 14 times, and Newsweek 12.

“There is something about the office of the presidency that just doesn’t do well with too much accessibility and too much of a human touch. Ronald Reagan understood this and played the presidency with the right doses of warmth, balance and gravitas,” says branding and image guru John Tantillo, who cautioned Mr. Obama about overexposure.

“Let’s face it, a president should probably be rarely heard and seen and then only strategically. There’s a reason why the Wizard of Oz stayed behind his curtain,” Mr. Tantillo said.

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