yet the security umbrella that surrounds the couple descended on the winfrey estate where the daily caller, a washington news website, claimed michelle was staying with a small group of female friends including valerie jarrett, a senior white house adviser, and gayle king, a television presenter and close friend of winfrey.
oprah once said of her hawaii home that she had "never encountered anyone who doesn't love it ... we sip drinks inspired by whatever is fresh and delicious - mango, guava, pineapple, cucumber, basil. we sometimes ride horses to the top (of the mountain) to watch the moon rise over the ridge".
it sounded like a blissful escape for a hardworking first lady who has made no secret of her distaste for life under the microscope.
she may have a rough return to the political world this week, with her husband's enemies sure to seize on any hint of excessive birthday party consumption as evidence of presidential extravagance.
the need to demonstrate frugality may have been the reason for the letters "ebyc" at the end of the invitation: guests have been advised to "eat before you come" to the party, which merely promises "snacks & sips & dancing & dessert".
the lack of dinner has divided social commentators. "i don't think it's rude, but i do think it's a little ... different than what people are used to," said lizzie post, a writer on etiquette.
andre wells, a party planner, disagreed. "it seems like a very casual party, and she's turning 50," he said. "the older you get, i feel like you can say what you want."