Michelle Obama's Latest "Family Values" Swipe
by ryeland, Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 12:34:19 AM EDT
"Family Values" is one of those political phrases that can't ever really be divorced from its earlier context and meaning. I'm sure that any one who lived through the 90's can't hear the phrase without remembering it as a Republican battle-cry used against the Clintons and the Democratic Party. It was a rhetorical weapon that signified opposition to liberal values such as gender equality and abortion rights. And it was used to attack the Clintons during the Ken Starr investigation and impeachment.
So why would Michelle Obama refer to "family values"tonight on Colbert?
It's not the first time the phrase has come up during the 2008 campaign:
Mitt Romney today sharply criticized the "family values" of Hillary Clinton and her husband, recalling Bill Clinton's affair with a White House intern that led to an impeachment battle.
Answering a question from a woman who asked him how the president can promote family values, Romney wasted no time in bringing up the Clintons.
"There's no question that one of the ways that you help instill family values is by having the White House be a place that demonstrates that," Romney said. "So I think that during the last Clinton presidency, the White House did not demonstrate that in a way that was helpful for our nation's culture."
Tonight on Colbert, Michelle Obama explained why women would vote for Senator Obama and not Clinton: "Many women like myself who are independent, strong, focused, who care about family values..."
The connotation is unavoidable, especially since Michelle used it when contrasting her husband with Hillary Clinton. And she's done it before. Here's Michelle Obama in Iowa:
Part of what we want to do as a family...is to model what it means to have family values in this country and we haven't seen that for a long time...one of the most important things that we need to know about the next President of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is he a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.
This is ugly politics. Invoking a loaded Republican catch-phrase in this manner has no place in a contest between Democrats. Shame on you, Michelle.