Maureen Dowd has a column on Michelle Obama's Spain vacation:
In politics and pop culture, optics are all. And Michelle’s optics sent a message that likely made some in the White House and the Democratic Party wince.
By that she means, “In politics and pop culture, optics are all that matters to me.”
You could not ask for a better distillation of why so much political commentary is so completely and utterly detached from what actually affects political outcomes. War and peace, economic prosperity and hard times, real scandals — these things pale beside the fact that the Obamas once went to New York City on a date!
Obama's media image does matter around the margins, and generally speaking the media has produced positive fluff about the Obamas' personal life.