SO MUCH FOR BEING AN ‘ALBATROSS’…. In January, Fox News contributor Juan Williams went after Michelle Obama, describing her as a political “liability” for the president. As Williams argued, the First Lady has “got this Stokely Carmichael-in-a-designer-dress thing going,” which may make her “something of an albatross.”

So much for that idea. The Washington Post‘s Lois Romano reports:

At first, they didn’t like the way she was talking about her husband’s dirty socks. Then, they said she always looked angry. Later, they questioned her patriotism when she commented that she only recently became proud of her country. They even made hay over her biceps when she dared show up sleeveless for her husband’s address to Congress in January.

Now, two months into her husband’s presidency, as Michelle Obama embarks on her maiden official overseas trip, the first lady is enjoying a second look from the American public — particularly from those who were put off by her as a candidate’s wife, but are warming to her as the president’s wife.

A Washington Post-ABC News survey conducted over the past few days shows a dramatic turnaround: Her favorability ratings are at 76 percent, up 28 points since summer. The number of people who view her negatively has plummeted.

Now, I think Romano’s assumptions about previous public attitudes are a stretch. She writes, matter of factly, that Americans didn’t like the way Michelle Obama spoke, looked, or dressed. I’ve seen no evidence to support this. There are plenty of members of the political elite in D.C. who felt this way, but to say this is how “the American public” felt is dubious, at best.

That said, the larger point is certainly true — most of the country likes what they see from the First Lady, and she’s getting more popular as time goes on. In June, 48% had a favorable impression of Michelle Obama, while 29% had an unfavorable impression. Now, 76% feel good about the president’s spouse, and only 16% don’t.

It seems efforts to smear Michelle Obama (see Bruce, Tammy) aren’t connecting.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.