Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle, Ma Belle

(Photo Credit: Charles Ommanney, Getty Images for Newsweek; "Ready for my ascension, Mr. DeMille.")

For the Clintonistas of Roxie's World:

So you're sitting out there, poring over the polls and primary maps, trying to master the impenetrable arcana of superdelegates, wondering if Howard Dean will ever figure out what to do about the debacles of Michigan and Florida, and perhaps you're edging your way toward the third stage of your grief over what feels like the implosion of the Clinton campaign: bargaining. Perhaps you've started to think, Maybe it won't be so bad if Obama is the nominee. He comes with so much less baggage than the Clintons do. Maybe fear of being called racist will take some of the edge off the Republican attack machine. Maybe it will be a kinder, gentler campaign that actually focuses on the issues. Maybe Obama's soaring rhetoric, personal magnetism, and stunningly beautiful family will neutralize and triumph over all the poisonous waste Republicans have dumped into our political discourse in the last twenty years.

Think again, my sweet benighted human. Think again.

Regular readers know we generally avoid the blogger's condition we like to call Digbyitis, in which the blogger fills huge expanses of prime blog un-real estate by cutting and pasting lengthy excerpts from other blogs, columns, or news reports. Much as we revere Digby (and we do), we kind of think that's cheating, and we know June Star agrees with us and we like to stay in June Star's good graces. Anyway, we're going to make an exception to our rule by printing an entire post by John Podhoretz that was published yesterday in "Contentions," a Commentary magazine blog, because we want to make sure even our non-linky-loving readers see it. Think of it as a preview of the scary movie we might all have to sit through in the fall if Obama is the nominee and his lovely but occasionally loose-lipped wife Michelle is the first-lady-in-waiting.
She Said What?

Michelle Obama today said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

Really proud of her country for the first time? Michelle Obama is 44 years old. She has been an adult since 1982. Can it really be there has not been a moment during that time when she felt proud of her country? Forget matters like the victory in the Cold War; how about only things that have made liberals proud — all the accomplishments of inclusion? How about the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991? Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s elevation to the Supreme Court? Or Carol Moseley Braun’s election to the Senate in 1998? How about the merely humanitarian, like this country’s startling generosity to the victims of the tsunami? I’m sure commenters can think of hundreds more landmarks of this sort. Didn’t she even get a twinge from, say, the Olympics?

Mrs. Obama was speaking at a campaign rally, so it is easy to assume she was merely indulging in hyperbole. Even so, it is very revealing.

It suggests, first, that the pseudo-messianic nature of the Obama candidacy is very much a part of the way the Obamas themselves are feeling about it these days. If they don’t get a hold of themselves, the family vanity is going to swell up to the size of Phileas Fogg’s hot-air balloon and send the two of them soaring to heights of self-congratulatory solipsism that we’ve never seen before.

Second, it suggests the Obama campaign really does have its roots in New Class leftism, according to which patriotism is not only the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the first refuge as well — that America is not fundamentally good but flawed, but rather fundamentally flawed and only occasionally good. There’s something for John McCain to work with here.

And third, that Michelle Obama — from the middle-class South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, Princeton 85, Harvard Law 88, associate at Sidley and Austin, and eventually a high-ranking official at the University of Chicago — may not be proud of her country, but her life, like her husband’s, gives me every reason to be even prouder of the United States.
Way to go, Michelle. You see how easy it is to toss a big fat softball straight at the waiting bats of the right-wing commentariat? One little off-the-cuff remark and the terrifying specter of the America-hating left is conveniently revived. Give 'em an inch, and next thing you know 44% of voters (and 92% of Fox news viewers) will believe that your husband, Barack HUSSEIN Obama, helped plan the 9/11 attacks. Give 'em another inch and little old ladies from Texas will swear that you killed a man and personally wrapped his body in a rug. (This non-urban legend [with Hillary Clinton in the role of diabolical left-wing killer] was recently circulating in Goose's family in Texas. Apparently, they're not all yellow-dog Dems. Don't you [or "chu," as they say in the Lone Star state] just love it when relatives come to visit?)

John McCain's scary wife Cindy quickly pounced on Mrs. Obama's words, introducing her husband to a Wisconsin audience by remarking, “I’m proud of my country. I don’t know about you – if you heard those words earlier – I’m very proud of my country.’’ NY Times political blog has links to a lot of other reaction here.

Let us be clear: Roxie's World deplores the fact that American politics has been reduced to gotcha games and swift boats and common denominators so low you need a bulldozer to dig down to see them. But do not for one second kid yourselves that the man David Brooks today deemed "His Hopeness" will deliver us from this cesspool to a utopia of post-partisan, post-race, beyond-gender cooperation. (I guess that means there'll be no free tampons in the Obama era, huh? Moose was really hoping that the first woman president would place buckets of free tampons on every street corner. And condoms. And maybe dental floss -- all kinds of sensible things you might not have on you when you need them. Women are really good at thinking about stuff like that. Maybe we should have thought of that before we decided gender doesn't matter, which is the obvious corollary of Obama's supporters declaring that race doesn't matter, isn't it?) (Go read the rest of that David Brooks column, by the way. His analysis of "Obama Comedown Syndrome" is actually, surprisingly, funny, though it also affirms our sense that Obama-mania may be short-lived, followed by a nasty hangover, and lead to President John McCain deciding to stay in Iraq for ten thousand years. And we do intend to hold all our friends who voted against Hillary for authorizing military action in Iraq accountable for that.)

Also, go read the long Newsweek profile on Michelle Obama. We've decided we can't stand her, but we're pretty sure that's just bitterness on our part. And, oh yeah, maybe that thing she said back in May about not "identifying" with feminism -- or progressivism -- because she's "not that into labels." Oh, yeah, us neither, Michelle, but we are into a crazy little thing called convictions. Got any?

This was going to be a much better post, kids, but we had some weird technical difficulties around embedding links that had my typist ready to throw her laptop straight off the observation deck and out into our ridiculously large backyard. Love you, have our doubts about technology.

Oh, yeah, and Clinton lost Wisconsin, but you probably already knew that. LA Times asks if it's "the beginning of the end for Clinton." And maybe you're asking that, too.


  1. Anonymous12:40 AM EST

    To the men of the Networks:
    I think that it is a disgrace that all the networks went away from Clinton's speech to give Obama the audience. But of course all the networks are run by men. What does that tell you? Someone should paint a picture off all the men sucking up and kneeling to Obama. The men of the networks have put him in a pedestal and so he can do no wrong. Why don't you men admit your gay and can't stand a woman being smarter

  2. Anonymous definitely has a point. As you noted, Rox, Chris Matthews was talking about "feeling something run up his leg" or something like that when he listened to Obama last week. The relentless hatred and sexism being spewed by even Keith Olbermann has, I'll confess, amazed me. That no one is talking about the issues (well, Hillary Clinton is) and that the Dems are wallowing in the politics of distraction yet again is deeply saddening. That Obama supporters are perfectly happy to "play by the rules" as far as disenfranchising the voters of Michigan and Florida but want to change the rules as far as superdelegates go is astonishing to me.

    I have found myself wondering over the past few days if we're not all fiddling while Rome burns. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who's talking about our economic issues and about pulling us out of Iraq (I guess Obama has kind of forgotten about the latter). McCain is talking about economic issues (tax cuts the magic cure, of course) and keeping us in Iraq because of "National Security." Obama is talking about how it was just plagiarism among friends (which according to the honor code at my university is still plagiarism), he can't remember if what he said in the fall really constituted a promise to take public financing (will he not be able to remember what he promised to other leaders of the world?), and how he personally is the only person (apparently on earth) who can bring the warring lobbyists and the Democrats and Republicans together.

    We are in Big Trouble. Rome is burning. . .or is recognizing the big problems we face disloyal to the politics of hope? I don't think so, but then I am a practical visionary.

  3. Yes, Anonymous does have a point and we obviously also have strong feelings about the raw deal Clinton has gotten from the news media, but we don't cotton to the whole anti-gay thing here in Roxie's World (right, Goose??). It's kind of a house rule that if you call someone gay here, you mean it as a compliment, not an insult. The division of free speech has ruled that Anonymous's comment can stay, but let's not allow our understandable disappointment turn us into meanies.

  4. Of course calling someone gay is a compliment, Rox! Think of how many of our "straight" friends are honorary queers! In fact, aren't all of our straight friends honorary queers? I just meant that anonymous has a point as far as the unrelenting bias of the media goes.

    And don't forget my larger point: we are fiddling--talking about who's messianic and who's not, yet another version of the politics of distraction--while Rome burns.

    love & peace,

  5. Anonymous11:26 AM EST

    Roxie, Moose, Goose! and Anonymous:

    I am currently listening to WNYC Talk Radio, and three women in a row have called in to say that if Hillary looses, they will vote for McCain. Why? because Obama is an "unknown quantity," or because they don't understand "his church," or because they just don't like him at all. The pain in their voices is palpable, the bitterness reasonable -- Hillary is much loved in NYC. No one wants her to lose.

    But looking at the bigger picture. In an Obama Presidency, I believe Senator Clinton would be a major mover and shaker -- voting for McCain out of bitterness would destroy all that possiblity! History never revolves around one point or person or philosophy, and the actual leader is often times not the one in power.

    If her losses continue, Hillary must not force the issue, she needs to be a true champion by supporting the Democratic process (no matter how flawed) in grand and gracious style. Gore will also step in, and that will uplift the election, because we all need to feel some sort of healing recompense for Gore's stolen crown 8 years ago. It would be so wonderful to see him with the Dems on the Victory stand next November.

  6. There you go again, RA, being all sensible and reasonable when the dogs start howling in pain here in Roxie's World. Fear not that any of the yellow dog Dems in these parts will cast any votes for McCain. Nope, unh-unh, not gonna happen. The debate in the house now is the extent to which we will get behind Obama if he is the nominee. Goose is threatening not to vote for the first time in her adult life. Moose is threatening not to work for the ticket. Basically, you're looking at a scenario where the cranky old bitches (a term of endearment here in RW, of course) sit back and say, "Hey, you got this far without us. You clearly don't need our help. Good luck!"

    There's a whole lot o' threatening going on 'round here right now, but I figure it all will depend on how this thing winds down. Will Obama be more gracious in victory than he has been in the heat of battle? Who will he pick for VP? Will there be a major spot on the convention program for Hillary? Will there be any significant attention to WOMEN AND WOMEN'S ISSUES?

    In other words, stay tuned.

  7. Hi Roxie (absolutely LOVE your blog).
    I am so over this 2nd coming messianic Obama crap. In my world, there hasn't even been a 1st coming. He's not the Messiah. If he were, then INSTANTLY, there'd be world peace and I'd have all the human food a dog could stand. There. I said it.

  8. Welcome to Roxie's World, sds, and thanks for liking my blog! (blush) All the human food a dog could stand? Wow, if Obama could make that happen, it would be even better than Moose's tampon, etc., fantasy, don't you think???

  9. Anonymous11:57 PM EST

    The Atlantic's take on Hillary's standing ovation
    at the end of the Debate -

    and here's Emily's take:

    I finished Two - and several Stars -
    While He - was making One -

    His own was ampler - but as I
    Was saying to a friend -
    Mine - is the more convenient
    To Carry in the Hand -

    RA ((-:

  10. Anonymous12:04 AM EST

    [tiptoes in] Roxie? Roxie? Ah, glad to see you're sitting up and thinking about taking a little nourishment. All that howling in pain had me worried.

    Anyway, I stopped by the internets and picked up a little off-topic something that I thought would raise your spirits. Guess who's at 19 percent approval??? Yes, that's right: our very own Commander Codpiece.

    The only question now is whether he can make single digits before the November elections. It looks iffy, but never bet against a world champion. Remember, we're talking about a guy who has spent his life practicing different ways to screw up and who at this point is as much a master of the art as anyone can be.

    OK, enjoy. Rest up. See you later. Feel better. [tiptoes out]

  11. Anonymous10:45 AM EST


    I'm not sure if you read this article. But since your moms work on campus, I am interested in their opinion. http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=ca022ae2-cb84-43f9-8de3-0a089af5dfd3

    Love ya, Rox!

  12. Thanks for the link, Rebecca. Y'all go read that story. I think the moms would agree with the analysis of why younger women would be less inclined to vote on feminist grounds, having less experience of gender discrimination than older women voters might. Though I hasten to point out, before Dudley starts baying at me, that voting on feminist grounds does not necessarily mean voting for a woman candidate. I know! I know!

  13. Anonymous1:33 PM EST

    Any chance of getting Rebecca's link in full, or at least the name of the article so we can track it down? It's cut off at the edge.


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