Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

     The two biggest problems I have with the reactions to Michelle Obama's heartfelt comment about her finally having something to be really proud of this country about is this. We eviscerate candidates and campaigns for their scripted syncopated messages saying we want honesty and real emotions. Then we crucify those who would give it to us. America once again proves that "You can't handle the truth." I would expect the Republicans, pundits, talking heads, and the America; love it or leave it crowd to resort to knee-jerk reactions, but I find it very telling that Democrats and so-called Progressives are joining their ranks in condemning her remarks. The second problem is that it shows how we have allowed the Republican "fear factor" to color our perspective about who we are and what we have become. The same fraudulent media that can swift-boat a decorated war hero into a lying coward while at the same time turning a lying draft-dodging Reservist into a hero strikes fear in the hearts of many.

    Any American over the age of 40 whether they be black or white should if they are honest be able to attest to the truthfulness of Michelle Obama's statement. Forty years ago there were images being played out on television screens across America of peaceful black demonstrators being attacked by police dogs, high pressure water hoses and brutal police just for wanting to exercise their basic rights. Who in their right mind back then would have envisioned that today one of the major Parties is on the verge of nominating a black man for President? How many among us today thought that a black man could draw the cross-section of support that Barack Obama has been able to put together prior to this election? I mean come on people, the guy won Idaho. Forty years ago America's urban centers and rural counties were ablaze with rage following the slaying of one of America's greatest heroes, who by the way was long on rhetoric but yet was able to move a nation to confront it's racist past.

    Forty years ago college campuses were exploding with the calls for change to end a divisive war that was killing and maiming a generation; once again for the cause of spreading democracy at the end of a gun. Forty years ago a young man promising change and a new vision of America was gunned down and a fractious Democratic Party was left to sort out the pieces in Chicago amid chaos and smoke filled rooms. To those too young to remember these things or may not have lived through them they may seem ancient, but to those who were there for us to deny the validity of Michelle Obama's statement is to deny ourselves. We look back over the last 40 years and I would ask anyone to tell me a prouder moment in America than the one we stand at today, with all of its historic significance. Not only have we been presented with the choice for the first time ever of a viable black candidate, but also of a woman.

    We as a nation can not allow the right-wing nuts to minimize this moment or to marginalize it. The time has come to put an end to the false patriotism of either you are with us or against us, as if this were some western movie and the choices were as simple as the guys in white hats or black ones. I can love someone or love a nation and still be able to point out their flaws. The real act of love is not to ignore their flaws or to pretend they don't have any, but to love them all the more in spite of them. It is precisely this myth of infallibility that keeps us repeating the same mistakes over and over again as well as keeps us tied to the ones we have already made. This fear of acknowledging our failings must be overcome if we are to become a greater nation. For one to acknowledge their mistakes is not a sign of weakness, but in fact is a sign of strength and a first step of growth and change.

    I suspect we haven't seen the last of this episode if Barack Obama goes on to win the nomination. The wife of Senator McCain has already weighed in saying, "that she has and always will be proud of her country." Well given the fact that she was raised an only child to affluent parents and enjoyed the best that this country had to offer I can understand why she is so proud of America, but for those of us not quite as fortunate as Cindy McCain we have seen our share of moments when America was not looking or acting so worthy of pride. To those of us who grew up poor, black, or brown we can understand Michelle Obama's feelings of pride and elation. Because while Cindy McCain was getting diversion for her addiction and drug stealing, many of us have had fathers, brothers, and sisters who were and are serving felony prison sentences for a lot less. I guess pride is like everything else in this world, it just depends on your perspective.

    As a middle-aged black man, I can say that I have never been more proud of this country than I am now. The fact is that the number of whites who are willing to vote for Barack Obama is far more than I would have guessed in my wildest dreams fills me with pride and if this is wrong to say then who really is being dishonest? Michelle Obama and me or those living in a drug induced state of, "I can't say I have made any mistakes."

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive and unrealistic - John F. Kennedy

The Disputed Truth

Tags: Cindy McCain, Main Stream Media, Michelle Obama, Republican Scams, Right Wing Conservatives (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

According to B. Obama, this was a comment about her for the first time being proud of politics in America -- due to her previous deep cynicism.  Probably just damage control, but it is plausible because she isn't really a political animal and, for novices, they are really prone to this kind of thing.

by bigdcdem 2008-02-20 05:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?
Here we go again with:
WORM--what obama really meant. Well, it doesn't matter what she meant only that she said something incredibly stupid. And she played right into McCains hands.
by Ga6thDem 2008-02-20 05:56AM | 0 recs
That's fine,

but you can only get so much mileage out of attacking a candidate's spouse.

by bigdcdem 2008-02-20 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Screw her.  She is a bitter, self-centered mess.  How much arrogance does it take to even think such a  thing?  Pride in my country does not rise and fall with the success of some politician.  I hate the HRC isn't do so hot, but I still love my frickin' country.

So, Michelle can kiss it.

I'd like to dare her watch "The Patriot" and not be proud of our country.

by BRockNYC 2008-02-20 05:20AM | 0 recs
Which Patriot?

The one where Steven Seagal cures exposure to weaponized nerve gas with herbal tea, or the one where they changed all the slaves to "employees" and had the British act out a Waffen-SS war crime?

by HEAP 2008-02-20 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Thanks for your thoughts on this.  I suspect that when all the talking heads and bloviating bloggers are done, this will turn out to have been another "botched joke" episode which, BTW, Hillary Clinton took as an opportunity to stab at Sen. Kerry, a potential presidential rival at the time. I don't think what's happening here is any different than what happened then.

Michelle has said something similar in many of her stump speeches.  This time it came out with the wrong emphasis and thus ripe for someone with a handy editing penchant to pull out and emphasize.

When Hillary was dissed by the Pentagon, who stood up for her?

That's right.  Sen. Kerry.  The man she dissed.

Because he made the point, and rightfully so, that  no Democrat should be swiftboated or otherwise attacked without support from other Democrats.  And he's repeatedly demonstrated that point here,  here and here.

For those who don't yet get it, here's where you need to spend your anger and outrage.

It's time to get with the program.

We stand up for Dems and progressives.

by vbdietz 2008-02-20 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Some of the above attacks on Mrs Obama show a real lack of class. She's an intelligent and charismatic advocate for Obama, and it sounds like these remarks have been taken totally out of context.

by liberalj 2008-02-20 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Well, she is anything but classy imho.  She lost me at "I'll have to think about it".

by BRockNYC 2008-02-20 06:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Yes, that was an unwise comment. She shouldn't have said it. But i think Democrats launching ad hominem attacks on Michelle Obama is wrong.

Now is not the time to start joining in the attacks against the wife of the (likely) Democratic nominee. It only damages the chances of victory in November.

by liberalj 2008-02-20 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

So be it.  My faith in my party has never been this low.  We are handing this election to the Republicans with Obama as the nominee.

Have you ever noticed how much he relishes attacking Democrats?  How he blames Democrats as much as Republicans for his perceived problems in Washington?  How on earth is he going to run against them while he is busy trying to kiss their a**es?  This guy does not have a clear understanding of reality.

And his wife? Geez.  I can barely look at her without my skin crawling.  She is so bitter and so arrogant.  It will be easy, indeed, to ridicule her.  She will get the HRC treatment pretty soon.  And people will wonder how she became so darn "divisive".

by BRockNYC 2008-02-20 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

I supported Hillary but lets face it, its over. Obama out-raised her, out-organised her and successfully wooed the media (not that they needed much wooing to root for Hillary's opponent).

I don't think Obama attacks Democrats, i think he's just not very good at standing up for progressive positions. However, i think i know why he doesn't. He has a very liberal voting record and has made past statements in support of banning handguns, adopting single payer healthcare and legalizing marijuana. If he wants to get elected, he can't give Republicans any more ammunition. Since he has a very Liberal voting record he needs to come across as post-partisan to win over independents and some Republicans.

Its working so far. I hope it continues to work.

And you are right on with the final comment, yes Michelle Obama will be made out to be divisive i'm sure. Thats if she speaks out with any kind of honesty, if she says nothing and smiles sweetly then she'll be left alone. But i don't want any wife to do that, especially not the first lady.

My hope is that Obama will be the most liberal President since FDR, but he won't win on that promise. His strategy is to appeal to as many people as possible, unfortunately that means keeping quiet about the fact that the Republicans are to blame for the mess we're in.

by liberalj 2008-02-20 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

Why is it that Obama's speeches and rallies are the first places I've ever heard Democrats chant "USA! USA!"  If there's a patriotism deficit on the left, it isn't in the Obama campaign.

by mddem456 2008-02-20 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Attitude Is No Joke!

Yeah, you got that right whites have sure gotten the short end of the black/white stick!

by Forgiven 2008-02-20 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

LOL. So much for Obama the uniter. By the time an Obama presidency is in its fourth year, legions of psychological counselors will be needed for the entire nation. Oprah, I see a growth industry on the horizon. With no Clintons to bash around anymore all that unchecked angst has to go somewhere right? Me, I'm getting my deck chair out, claiming a front row seat with a drink in my hand ready to watch the show. This will be the biggest reality show, call it America in living color.

by superetendar 2008-02-20 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama's Gaffe?

You've written a stirring defense of the sort of real patriotism I expect progressives and Democrats to embody.  Like you, I'm tired of Republicans laying claim to 'love of country' and smearing those who oppose their self-serving agenda as traitors.  Like you, I am proud that we are living in an historic moment now, and I've been particularly proud of our party, our candidates, and their agendas, even in what appear to be the twilight days of my preferred candidate's campaign.

I don't think that Michelle Obama is bitter, cynical, or classless, and agree with you that it is foolish and short-sighted for Democrats - especially HRC partisans - to attack her comments so vociferously.  If anything, it reminds me of Republican responses to HRC in the early 1990s - the sort that have turned her into the "polarizing" figure against whom Senator Obama ran.  

There's a certain bitter irony for me in that.  I don't want Michelle Obama to be put through the Republican wringer in the same way HRC (and, to a lesser extent, Teresa Heinz Kerry) were.  I don't want her to become a "polarizing" wife, a normal - passionate - woman the wingnuts make a virtue of hating, but they don't take marching orders from me, or pay much attention to my desires.  

For all that, Michelle Obama is an important surrogate for her husband, and her words do mean something to the ordinary Americans she needs to reach as his advocate - and that line is one of several extraordinarily bad ones she's uttered over the past several weeks.  If she is indeed - as it appears - going to be the wife of our nominee, that needs to change.  She's a smart, talented woman.  She rose from working class roots to the stratosphere of the upper middle class.  She attended Ivy League schools, and lives in a home that might well cost more than huge swathes of the American electorate - black and white - will make in a lifetime of toil.  There are so many smarter ways to write that line - "I am so proud of our country.  I have never been more proud of our country." - that do not discount the lives and experiences of other voters, for whom patriotism is a simpler thing, that acknowledges the opportunities Michelle Obama herself has been afforded in the US, no matter its flaws.

by mgee 2008-02-20 09:06AM | 0 recs

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