Obama pointed out that she and President Barack Obama had a very small "margin of error" that the current president does not seem to have, telling Colbert that her family kept a "moral compass" while living in the White House and being the "example family" for the country.
"When you're the first of anything, the bar feels higher," Obama said of being part of the first African American family to occupy the White House. "You feel like you don't have room to make mistakes."
She said she cried for about 30 minutes after flying on Air Force One the last time. It was "just the release of eight years of feeling like we had to do everything perfectly. That there wasn't a margin of error. That we couldn't make mistakes. That we couldn't slip. That our tone had to be perfect because that was the bar that was set for us.
"But it was always the bar we set for ourselves, thinking that as the first, people will measure everyone of our race, of our gender by what we do. And there is pressure that comes with that. That's how we carried ourselves."
Obama went on to add that they "couldn't afford to make a mistake" and they thought about how everything they said would be viewed by children.
"We couldn't just say things off the cuff," she said.
This gave Colbert a perfect opening to ask Obama for her thoughts about the current administration being "indifferent" to responsibility.
"I have been very clear how I felt about that, I gave a speech about it at the 2016 convention. The question we have to ask ourselves is, how does the country feel about it?" Obama said. "The country has to ask itself, what do we want, what is the bar we are setting for ourselves? What kind of moral leadership do we demand in the White House? If we vote for one set of behavior, then that's obviously what we want, until we vote differently."
Obama once again pointed out that her family's margin of error was very small.
"Barack couldn't golf. You know, we could just start there," Obama said. "There's so much that would have been an outrage for us and we knew it. There wasn't any room for anybody in our administration to be indicted... We had to be highly ethical. We showed our taxes, we divested our money. This isn't shade. This is just the sort of stuff we had to think about doing. This isn't shade, it's truth."
Obama is now on her book tour to support Becoming, which has already sold more than 1.1 million physical copies since it was released on Nov. 13, BookScan reports. Penguin Random House said the book has sold more than 2 million units when including other formats in the U.S. and Canada.
The former First Lady announced on Saturday she will be postponing her trip to Paris and Berlin to promote the book to attend funeral services for former President George H.W. Bush. The trip will be rescheduled for next year.
Photo credit: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS