a leading american divorce mediator will visit washington this week to offer members of congress advice on ending the "tiresome bickering" between republicans and democrats.
if us tabloids are to be believed, she may need to visit the white house first.
michelle obama's extended absence from washington and a flurry of renewed speculation about the state of the first couple's marriage are threatening to overshadow her 50th birthday party at the white house on saturday.
not for the first time in their 22-year marriage the obamas are approaching what should be a happy family milestone under a cloud of rampant tabloid innuendo, summed up by a national enquirer headline: "world exclusive: obama marriage explodes!".
the enquirer has earned a measure of respectability in washington with its reporting of political scandals - most notably its exposure of the double life of john edwards, a former senator and once a democratic presidential contender.
yet its so-called bombshell obama report was based on nothing more substantial than the vague allegations of an unnamed "oval office insider" who claimed the first couple "are now sleeping in separate white house bedrooms" - tame stuff compared with the adventures of the president's french counterpart francois hollande.