Defending Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is going to come under greater scrutiny now. Far more than Cindy McCain. Part of the reason for this is that she has been, and will be, a more active and outspoken campaigner. Another reason will be because she’s black.

Before I go further with this post, I want readers to understand that I loathe identity politics (though I do think identity politics has served to raise consciousness on important issues in the past). For one thing, claiming victimization helps internalize the stereotypes that groups often accuse others of harboring – witness Jeremiah Wright’s black people “learn differently.” For another, the 1960s brother-man politics of Al Sharpton, Wright, and many others, is a racket that keeps them happily empowered while their constituents remain marginalized, blaming someone else for their problems. Nothing could be more harmful than this continued emphasis on victimization, particularly for black people.

This, in part, is what accounts for the popularity of Obama among whites. He recognizes that many of the problems of the black community have their origins in the black community, and that solving those problems is a function of responsibility and self-discipline. Bill Cosby is essentially on the same track.

That said, however, there is an undeniable bias that exists, in general terms, against black power and, I’m going to extrapolate, against a (dark-skinned) black first lady.

So she’s going to feel heat. Here are some examples by the freakish Michelle Malkin, Yuval Levin of the ur-conservative National Review, and the execrable Bill O’Reilly.

The most important thing that can be done about these attacks on Michelle Obama is to carefully watch the words used to describe her and call the media on any double standard. When wealthy and privileged Elizabeth Edwards talked about the plight of poor people, she was a caring populist. If, when, Michelle Obama does it, she’s an angry elitist, you’re seeing code for uppity black. Not in every case, not always, but enough. Already the attacks on Michelle Obama from the blogs are relentless, and it is absolutely certain that no candidate’s wife has ever come under greater scrutiny than she will likely endure.

It is a credit to Barack and Michelle Obama that they recognize this and they are not playing the game. It’s up to their surrogates to do it for them. Michelle Obama is a new paradigm and she needs to be protected.

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48 Responses to Defending Michelle Obama

  1. Paul Zannucci says:

    Michelle Obama is going to come under greater scrutiny because she is a racist, anti-American political infection.

  2. Stormwarning says:

    How about if Zannucci gets to figure out his facts. The video tape will turn out to be a tempest in a tea pot; her thesis already has. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a McCain supporter since before he was leading. But all of this BS is self-destructive.

  3. charles higgins says:

    Michelle’s own words condemn her- she hates America- She has never been proud to be called an American. It is all WHITEY”S fault and on and on. Their struggles- the best of the best colleges and universities and the nicest houses and on and on and Ohhh the awful America. These folks are socialists and communists and that is what will get them in the end. This author needs to have his biases adjusted. We conservatives are anti government and it’s wastefulness. Give us Condi and watch us vote.

  4. Nancy says:

    Michelle Obama is going to come under greater scrutiny because she is just another good reason NOT to put Barack Obama in the White House.

  5. Hillraiser429 says:

    Michelle Obama is going to come under greater scrutiny because she is a racist and IS ONE OF THOSE “problems of the black community that have their origins in the black community.”

  6. Dawn says:

    Michelle Obama is a racist…any moron could see that…..

  7. Judi says:

    Sorry, the racist is not Michelle Obama, the racists are all of you Obama haters. Your posts show only your racism and your ignorance. America is more tolerant than you…America is better than you.

  8. whatever17 says:

    Michelle Obama needs a reality check. She’s an accomplished, obviously intelligent woman who refuses to recognize that she’s been the recipient of incredible opportunities and blessings that almost no American or person anywhere in the world receives. Of course, I presume she has worked hard, but so has millions and millions of people around the world worked hard and still don’t live like she has. Can she at least has the graciousness and humility to be grateful for a country that has given her more opportunities and wealth than most people will ever have? Nah, she’s too spoiled and angry to appreciate her blessings. What a shame. Anyone wanting to occupy the White House absolutely will be scrutinized, and it’s petty, petulant, and illogical why the Obamas think they shouldn’t be grilled like anyone else.

  9. J Fremont says:

    I’m old enough to remember when women were told “You have to be better than 75% of the men” in some fields to succeed. The women who were better than 75% of the men succeeded and got the respect they deserved. That success made it more plausible for younger women to be taken seriously. Anyone who is a “first” is going to get extra scrutiny. It’s the only way to prove one’s authenticity. If too many excuses are made now, M. O. will never prove that she’s more than a client of the real elite set.

  10. EiVE says:

    Wow… speaking of racists, those who posted anti-Michelle comments should take a look in the mirror. Michelle Obama is not a racist, nor is she anti-American. Her husband is 1/2 white and her children are 1/4 white. Her inlaws are white. Why would she have married him if she hated white people? I am so sick of her “proud” comment being used to identify her as anti-American. She was speaking about politics in this country… which most of you might realize has been downright disgusting. Do I need to mention false pretenses for Iraq, Valerie Plame, Karl Rove, etc.?

  11. Yashmak says:

    She’s not coming under attack because of race. She’s coming under attack because of the words that come out of her mouth.

    When Edwards talked about the poor, she didn’t also complain about how ‘hard’ her life has been. She knew that, compared to most Americans, she had it easy. Not so for Michelle Obama, who has apparently found it SO TOUGH being rich and priveleged.

    Most Americans would love to have the sort of trouble she complains about. THAT’S the difference, not race.

  12. VONNIE says:

    MO does have DARK BROWN SKIN,most blacks are very much into skin color than whites that is a very well kept secret. when i was a kid many times i was beaten by other kids because my skin was lighter, not my fault but it happens still today in 2008.

  13. Francis says:

    Emphasizing positives would be a good part of any character defense. Michelle has a working-class background, a top-notch education, and administrative experience in health care. She’s a good mother. She is the most (non-politically) qualified first spouse in modern history.

  14. EiVE says:

    Yashmak, check your facts. Michelle wasn’t rich and privileged. She grew up with two working class parents. Her father worked at the water purification plant even though he had multiple sclerosis and walked with crutches. She knows what a hard life is like.

  15. Barbara Johnson says:

    I totally agree with what you’ve said in your post. I just came from the aol news posts and as usual the racists were out in force. I go from ignoring these people since what I say probably doesn’t make one particle of difference, or being so appalled at what they say that I HAVE to resond and back and forth. But this morning there were two posts that really bothered me. They actually threatened the life of Obama and I reported them to aol. I fear for him sometimes and hope that these horrible people are merely striking out in frustration with words rather than deeds. They are a disgusting lot.

  16. AF says:

    Michele Obama is a RACIST, and so his her husband!!! While they “resigned” membership in their church, they did not disavow their relationship with Reverend Wright. I suspect the next few months will be very interesting in our political process. It appears Obama cannot even manage Hillary in decline, his reluctance to deal with the tough issues will be his downfall! He lacks leadership ability and expereince. Oratory is not a requirement of a great leader. The USA is not a church, we do not need sermans. We need a stong individual of action, conviction and authority. Sadly, the Obamas are totally devoid in those areas.

  17. Laughsalot says:

    M.O. I’m am sure is sorry she ever spoke her thoughts. The more I listen to what both have to say the more I wonder. Change is good, but we all know that the promise’s of all the candidates is impossible to achieve in 4 to 8 yrs. What I see with BHO is unsettling. When speaking in Mpls he thanked Wife, Children and his brothers and sisters. His grandmother was almost last. Does he have real bothers and sisters? I was shocked when I heard it…looking on the internet to confirm I heard right..the speech is no longer available! Only written speech (which does not have it in) Then I found the only site (that I could find) http://www.theuptake.org Does he have real brothers and sisters?

  18. Mr. Peel says:

    It has become clear to me, after having heard the rants of Obama’s ‘circle of friends’, that he is indeed racist…else why would he remain their friends for so many years? It is an outright lie that he could not have known or heard these things before. We know better. He has enough of his own problems without his wife’s problems with ‘whitey’, who, by the way, put who through some of the best universities in the nation.

    The voices that you aren’t hearing in the headlines, are those of what strategists and others like to call “fly-over country”. After this GE, you can call it a “no-fly zone”, because folks can plainly see through his rhetoric, and McCain will handily win this election. I have nothing against black folks, or any other folks; I have everything against racists, regardless of their color.

  19. Bill says:

    Judi,

    Why is it that anyone that is not for Barak Hussein Abama is automatically a racist? I thought he was the only one believing that lie. I am white and live in a predominately black neighborhood. Many of my friends are minorities, and, like me, they don’t like Obama, nor will they vote for him. If a black dislikes Obama, are they being accused of racism. Take a hard look at what this man and his wife stand for. He’s going to guarantee defeat in the War of Terrorism, he’s going to raise your taxes. He’s going to more than double the Capital Gains Tax. I hope you don’t work for a company that’s going to have massive layoffs to pay their new taxes. He’s not going to do anything to help America. In fact, I find it hard to believe that America will be able to survive his presendency. If he is elected, and has a Democrat congress, there will be no end to the damage. If you like the current fuel prices be sure and vote for Obama. Then Michelle can rant about how much she hates this country at your expense.

  20. Debbie says:

    You couldn’t be further from the truth. She is, at the least, abrasive. She is, at the most, completely out of touch with mainstream America…black, white, red, green, purple…whatever color you want to paint it. She also seems to have some angry, radical tendencies. But, that’s just an outsiders point of view.

  21. tstrainor says:

    “the 1960s brother-man politics of Al Sharpton, Wright, and many others, is a racket that keeps them happily empowered while their constituents remain marginalized, blaming someone else for their problems. Nothing could be more harmful than this continued emphasis on victimization, particularly for black people”

    From her words and her actions, Michelle Obama is one of their constituents, and appears to have been spoon-fed this type of propoganda throughout her life. Her self-victimization is contunally on display and is a major aspect of her persona. Americans observe this over and over again. Perhaps with all the increasing public scrutiny, and as the potential First Lady, she will examine this aspect of her demeanor and seek to mitigate it. Does she have the capacity to open her heart and embrace all Americans? That remains to be seen. Otherwise, she is very likely to go down the most unpopular First Lady in history.

  22. tj, dallas,tx says:

    Imagine how the spin would be if she had been addicted to drugs and even stole drugs from a Children’s Charity. Obama would not have been allowed to even run for office with that baggage. What if she starting dating a man that at the time was married and he had a wife that was in a wheelchair from a terrible accident? These are actions of a person. Actions speak louder than words.

  23. working_mom says:

    Laughsalot:

    check out http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_Barack_Obama_have_any_brothers_or_sisters

    Yes, he has a half sister from his mom, and six brothers and one sister (also, half siblings, I am guessing) from his dad.

    EiVE: I completely agree with you – Michelle Obama is an incredible person and was speaking about politics specfically when she made her now infamous “proud” comment. She very much appreciates this country, which is why she is willing to go through the scrutiny she knows she will – because she really believes her husband will be a wonderful president for a wonderful country.

  24. Anne says:

    “Already the attacks on Michelle Obama from the blogs are relentless, and it is absolutely certain that no candidate’s wife has ever come under greater scrutiny than she will likely endure.”

    How can anyone say that after what Hillary Clinton has been through?!
    I certainly do not envy MO for what she will have to put up with, but it is very unlikely she’ll have to endure the kind of hell the Republicans gave Mrs. Clinton.

  25. Alex says:

    Anne, you realize that all attacks on Clinton stopped after February, right? (see here: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/05/incoming.html).

    What hell, exactly, have the Republicans put Clinton through? Fox News and the idiots of the blogosphere can be (and were!) as sexist as they want, but they’re just as nasty about Obama.

  26. Tahoe Editor says:

    How do you defend “Black America will wake up”?

    To me, this statement means blacks must vote for the black candidate because they share the same skin color. What’s between the ears counts for nothing. This statement is an insult to all Americans, both black and white.

    Michelle is not a good representative for African-Americans, just as she is not a good representative for all Americans.

  27. Pat says:

    Leave Michelle alone and let her be hersself.

  28. Dave F says:

    Judi, If calling someone a racist is racist, then you are a racist. You can’t say, and I can’t say if Paul Z and Dawn are racist because of the lack of context of their statements. We don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t know what you were thinking when you called Paul and Dawn racists. I do know I saw Michelle Obama’s statement, and yes, it was kinda quick and TV with limited resolution and all, but I saw a woman who intentionally went well beyond good exageration. I saw a willing parishiner of the Rev Wright. I beleive she meant what she said. Based on that I believe that Michelle is a racist. And Judi, if you think I am a racist, you should see a picture of my family.

  29. Jeff says:

    You are completely missing the point about race in America. Most people on the right do not criticize the Obamas because of the pigment of their skin. We don’t care about their pigment. If we were blind or read the Obamas’ speeches without knowing their color our opinions wouldn’t be any different. You and people on the left are making it an issue about race. This is a war of ideas and calling it anything else is racist.

    Michelle is making some very provocative speeches that would attract vitriole from the other side regardless of color. It’s easy and lazy to cast off this critism of Michelle as racist instead of looking at what she is saying.

    The Obamas are bad for America and it has nothing to do with their color.

  30. Goat Locker Gus says:

    I don’t dislike Michelle Obama because she is black just as I don’t care for her husband because he is black or half white or whatever. It’s not their skin color, it’s their stance on some issues. For Michelle she is an angry, bitter person who will use race to insult people and try to “guilt” them into voiting for her liberal husband. She many have had to struggle and had difficulty early on in her life but she is living proof of the success of the American Dream. She has a Ivy League Education and a job with a six figure income but she is still bitter. The thought of this shrill, bitter and obvious race baiting woman in the White House makes me ill.

  31. Orgonian says:

    Stay tuned: Michelle Obama did NOT just slip up in her passionate speeches on the campaign trail she boldly proclaimed her anti-white views in her own church! The black community is not under oppression by whites!!!!!! They are equal in our eyes and have every opportunity as the whites and hispanics in this Free Country!

    Trinity church is spreading Black Liberation Theology that brainwashes blacks into believing that they are still oppressed as if they are living in the old slavery era! What is their agenda for this anti-American, anti-white hatred????????? Why are intelligent black families flocking to these Old School oppressive Churches and why would they allow their children to be indoctrinated into this outrageous, hate-mongering theology?

    I hope that through all the media attention that is exposing this hate centered teaching that the black community will see with new eyes that this hate speech against whites and our country is promoting racism, separation, hate, oppression and great division in this country and that they will boycott all Ministers who have forked tongues, preaching Love Thy Neighbor but NOT your country or whites. The Lord says that a House divided against itself will not stand and that you can not hang your feet on both sides of the fence.

    Trinity Church and all that teach hate-mongering is hindering the black communities from moving forward and is doing no Godly service. It is a pity that the young people in these Churches are going to grow up indoctrinated in this horrific theology and it will hinder their futures. We all must WAKE UP and see these OLD SCHOOL Ministers for what they are: OPPRESSORS!

  32. Mark Shaw says:

    All of you need to read the teachings of the spiritualist Thomas Merton. He speaks of a common denominator for people of all race, religion, or heritage. This common denominator is love, and it is the glue that brings people everywhere together instead of tearing them apart. When we show true love, and compassion, we are letting the light shine through darkness and providing a guiding light for all those with hope that in the days ahead this nation may return to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. What a beautiful thought that is.

  33. goldenferi says:

    I am not a racist because I question Obama and want to know more. That is called a democracy. I do not want anyone who views me as whitey in the oval office. Sorry that’s racism as well. Clearly we haven’t moved as far forward in this country as everyone would like to think.

  34. DROCK says:

    All I can say is WOW at these comments about Mrs. Obama..I agree with your post. Michelle is educated, wealthy and black (dark brown) that combination scares people. Oh, she’s to outspoken, she don’t love her county, blah, blah, blah.. She is already a villan according to these comments….now Hillary Clinton is the villan…

  35. LPC says:

    As a Black woman who stumbled upon this post, I am appalled at the comments of most respondents and the amount of misinformation, mischaracterization, and lack of knowledge most possess about ‘Black people’–and in his case the Obamas. The clouded lenses through which you examine the world and ‘Black people’ are an indication of why progress and change are so difficult (though not impossible thank goodness) to achieve in American politics and life.

    Michelle Obama is NOT A RACIST. She is an American who happens to be Black and because of that has had certain experiences that most Whites cannot relate to and WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE. Still, these experiences don’t comprise the totality of who she is, nor does it stop her from loving this country enough to want to change it for EVERYONE’S BENEFIT.

    It amazes me how SOME (not all) White Americans are so quick to recognize what you believe to be racism and bitterness in others but so unwilling to acknowledge your own racism, bitterness, discriminatory behavior, and outright bias.

    I grew up in Virginia–capital of the Confederacy and all of my life endured bouts of racist behavior at the hands of whites–even as a child–at the hands of peers and ADULTS alike! Behavior like refusing to let their children play with me and my siblings; behaviors like cross burnings (in he 1980’s—not the 1880’s) and graffitti signs saying “We hate niggers blazoned on the school walls; behaviors like guidance counselors withholding information about scholarships and precollege opportunities from high achieving Black students but offering all to for white students–many of whom lagged behind; behaviors like emptying out a swimming pool and closing it down rather than opening it up (integrating) it for all children to enjoy.

    Mind you, I didn’t mention the past atrocities my elders/ancestors endured or the present challenges my ‘Black’ children face in public schools largely populated by white teachers who have had little contact with ‘Black people/children’ in their lifetime before entering the classroom and the havoc this wreaks on our kids who are so often demonized & problemetized.

    Yet, talking about such things, I guess, makes me a bitter racist too, huh? NO!
    It makes me an American who happens to be Black and who has experiences that
    should be heard and must be heard if we are to form a more perfect union for all citizens–unless of course you beleive that only Whites are deserving–which IS A REAL ATTITUDE AMONG MORE WHITES THAN WILL OPENLY ADMIT IT!

    But I digress–amd despite all of this, STILL LOVE AMERICA, STILL BELIEVE IN THIS COUNTRY, AND STILL RESPECT ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE, Black, White, or otherwise.

    Obama for President! Michelle for First Lady!

  36. Reality Check says:

    Your tunnel vision and knuckledragging wingnut brains cause you to forget that heiress and senator’s wife Cindy McCain was caught FORGING prescriptions and STEALING drugs from her own non-profit in order to feed her addiction. The DEA caved and didn’t prosecute. MONEY TALKS…and WALKS.

    Taken from articles in the Arizona Republic August 1994: Cindy McCain has admitted that she solicited prescriptions for narcotics from physicans who worked for her charity and then filled them using names of her staff members. Her children were 5, 6, 8 and 11 at the time (88-92) and she adopted a child during that time. By her own admission and her own quote, she was “up to 15-20” narcotic tabs per day. This information is easily obtained by a simple google of the words: Cindy McCain’s drug addiction.

    This is a HUGE CHARACTER ISSUE for Cindy McCain and her husband’s campaign. FORGERY and STEALING = CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR. Cindy McCain is unfit to be First Lady.

    McCain is TOAST anyway.

  37. danny says:

    maybe MO is just embarressed that this country is full of so many uneducated, hateful douche bags

  38. Kevin J Brookshire Sr says:

    Michelle Obama is taking political heat because she has ignited the flame. She stands up and participates more than any other spouse has in the past. If she can’t stand the heat…stay out of the kitchen.

  39. Dear Aunaetitrakul says:

    Everyone, you guys are making big deal out of Michelle Obama. I don’t find her “arrogant.” I think she is going what she has to do to help her husband wins. She has been supporting her husband from day one and never stops! So stop talking negatives about her…Focus on the real issues here!

  40. Judi says:

    Dear LPC…

    Bravo and God bless you. I am a white…older woman who cannot know what life was like to grow up as an American of color. You do, and we need to listen, learn and grow.

    I see Michelle Obama as a young well-educated woman of faith, who loves her husband, children, God and yes, her country. Our country does not have a clean record when it comes to racial issues, to declare that fact does not make one a racist. To question one’s country does not mean you hate your country. Quite the contrary, If questioning your country was wrong, our forefathers might never have broken away from Britain.

    Barack Obama will make a great President and Michelle Obama will make a great First Lady. I can hardly wait.

  41. Jeff says:

    LPC,

    I hear everything that you said and understand the pain that you experienced as a child growing up and interacting with some hateful white people. I cannot know what it was like to grow up black but you persume to know what it’s like to grow up white. What I don’t think you understand is that growing up is tough for almost everyone. Children of all races are teased for being too fat, not very smart, bad at athletics. A large number of families are completely dysfunctional, many having alcoholic parents. Many kids are abused. Kids from all races often grow up with financial hardships. Some kids grow up with serious disabilities. Most of us have experienced many traumas as kids that continue to haunt us as adults. The goal is to realize as adults that there are enormous oportunities and to go out and pursue them. It is completely unproductive to sit around and complain about how some insensitive oafs treated us many years ago. A preacher who tells a community every Sunday about how the society at large is bad and out to get them is doing a disservice to his community. The sermons should be uplifting and not continue to burden people with baggage of the past.

  42. Keith Dyett says:

    Reading some of these comments have made me sick. As a black person i really hate to see the double standard taken here by other black people. If a “White Person” had said half of what MO said, there would be outrage from everywhere including the pro- Obama media.

    Black people need to begin to look inside at the problems lie, to address the problems we face as a culture, Yes my great grandparents were most likely slaves, but so were generations of other culturals, at one point in time every race on the planet were slaves to someone else.

    Michelle Obama does not make me proud to be black, Reverend Wright does not make me proud to be black. I am proud to be black.

    This election i will be voting for John McCain because i think he has it right and i know he can bring this country together, i can see that from his voting record, something that Obama does not have.

  43. Judi says:

    Dear Jeff,
    teased for being fat? Teased for not being athletic? Teased for not bieng smart? How you can eve equate that with the treatment black American’s have received in this country is beyoned comprehension. Has a fat person ever been sprayed with a firehose just because they are fat? Has a non athletic person ever had to eat at a separate table or sat in the back of a bus just becaseu they aren’t athletic? I think you had better read up on American civil rights history.

  44. tony says:

    Unfortunately, recent political events has re-enforced my long-standing conviction that “BIGOTRY AND RACISM” is still ALIVE AND WELL!

  45. tony says:

    Unfortunately, recent political events has re-enforced my long-standing conviction that “BIGOTRY AND RACISM” is still ALIVE AND WELL! I know the Obamas expected to be “grilled” the likes never before seen in American Politics. The primary reason for this is RACE and only RACE! If there’s any ethnic group with the RIGHT to exploit the race issue it is BLACKS! True these days are nothing like those of old, “white sheets and burning crosses, etc”, however, blacks have to remain vigilant in ensuring that any progress to date is not given back easily! So, with this said, until ALL races become oblivious to the color of a person’ skin, this situation will continue to exist. Back to Mrs. Obama, “Why can’t she voice her criticism of America like any other American? Do you want me to believe that there haven’t been elected politicians of the past that were harboring similar thoughts and feelings and just kept thems among a chosen few? Come on… As I was raised to believe ” What’s good for the Goose, is good for the Gander”! Therefore, using the “hardfought voting priviledge that I’ve been entrusted with – MY VOTE WILL BE FOR BARACK OBAMA!
    After all, this opporunity may NEVER come again!

  46. Jeff says:

    I wasn’t talking about how blacks were treated historically. What I was referring to was the traumas that most kids of all races deal with as they grow up and interact with rotten people . How come when I discuss what it’s like growing up today, you immediately bring up events from 50 years ago. If you as an individual today were forced to sit in the back of the bus, sprayed with a fire hose or had to eat at a separate table, I would have nothing but sympathy for you and I would not be making this argument. However since you’re not treated like that and have nothing but opportunities in this country I think that emphasis should be on how far we have come. Of course the images of the treatment of your ancestors may break your heart but this shouldn’t tarnish the image of your country today.

  47. Karl says:

    Wouldn’t it be an interesting discussion about race if JC Watts were the republican nominee for president? I would guess that he would only be getting 10-12% support from the black community, much the same as any republican candidate.

    We should be electing the person we believe is best qualified to perform the job, irrespective of race or gender, but apparently America is not there yet.

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