Free Radical

Ann T. Oxydent

You don’t get on the cover of Time by being a wilting flower, and central to Michelle Rhee’s meteoric rise and media prominence has been her meticulously crafted image as a take-no-prisoners, Lord-of-the-Flies-conch-wielding, butt-kicking executive. But what if her hard exterior surrounds a marshmallow middle? That’s the central allegation of this unauthorized exposé by Rhee’s younger daughter. “My mother’s no ‘Tiger Mom,’” writes Tee Hee Rhee. “She’s a total pussycat.” And that’s certainly the impression created by the book’s anecdotes. It reports, for instance, that Rhee has enrolled both girls in a Waldorf school, “where we learned to whittle before we learned to read.” And that Rhee refused to allow them to play soccer—“not because we suck—we don’t!,” according to Tee Hee, but because “Mommy was worried about the ‘corrupting effects of competition.’” “Maybe she was tougher when we were babies,” speculates the adolescent author, “but after enough trips to Aspen anyone will go soft.” Both Michelle Rhee and the StudentsFirst press secretary declined to comment on the book, but insiders report that, on hearing of its publication, Rhee senior gave wee Rhee “a big hug,” reminded her that she “loves her no matter what,” and offered to add a second weekly therapy session to her daughter’s regimen.

SOURCE: Tee Hee Rhee, Free Radical (Sacre-pimento, CA: DaughtersFirst Publications, 2013).

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