Here’s what she had to say in Milwaukee yesterday:
Michelle Obama proclaimed yesterday that for “the first time” in her adult life,” she was proud of America, as she spoke during a rally to support her husband’s presidential bid.
While Barack Obama spent yesterday deflecting accusations from Hillary Clinton’s campaign of “plagiarizing” part of a speech delivered in 2006 by Bay State Gov. Deval Patrick, Mrs. Obama made her own headlines.
“Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change,” she said during a rally in downtown Milwaukee.
Here’s the text of what she said:
What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback and let me tell you something, 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 and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I have seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues. It has made me proud.
And here’s the video:
To say the least, it’s an odd statement. Does Mrs. Obama want us to believe that she’s never been proud to be an American until her husband ran for President ? That nothing this nation has done in the past 30 years is worth being proud of ?
As Ed Morrissey notes, this isn’t the first time that Michelle Obama has spoken like this:
This problem occurs with Michelle Obama much more than with her husband. He has focused on positive themes of hope and change. Mrs. Obama has focused on how great Mr. Obama really is and how fortunate we are to have him. If she left it at that, it would be unremarkable; the job of spouses on the stump are to convince people that they have married the smartest and most reliable husbands or wives possible, and if we knew Hubby/Wife like they knew Hubby/Wife, etc.
Unfortunately, Michelle Obama has a habit of going much too far in promoting what is becoming a personality cult. First she explicitly says that only she and Barack can diagnose the condition of our souls, a highly arrogant claim and one that casts Obama as some sort of secular Messiah. Next, she informs us that we cannot take pride in America unless Obama wins the election. The purpose of the entire country, it seems, is to hoist Obama on our shoulders, and anything else would be what — shameful?
That seems to be the implication of what she’s saying. Consider, for example, the “save our souls” statement that Morrisey notes above:
In 2008, we are still a nation that is too divided. We live in isolation, and because of that isolation, we fear one another. We don’t know our neighbors, we don’t talk, we believe our pain is our own. We don’t realize that the struggles and challenges of all of us are the same. We are too isolated. And we are still a nation that is still too cynical. We look at it as “them” and “they” as opposed to “us”. We don’t engage because we are still too cynical. …
Americans are not in debt because they live frivolously but because someone got sick. Even with insurance, the deductibles and the premiums are so high that people are still putting medications and treatments on credit cards. And they can’t get out from under. I could go on and on, but this is how we’re living, people, in 2008.
And things have gotten progressively worse throughout my lifetime, through Democratic and Republican administrations, it hasn’t gotten better for regular folks. ….
We have lost the understanding that in a democracy, we have a mutual obligation to one another — that we cannot measure the greatness of our society by the strongest and richest of us, but we have to measure our greatness by the least of these. That we have to compromise and sacrifice for one another in order to get things done. That is why I am here, because Barack Obama is the only person in this who understands that. That before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.
Those are Michelle Obama’s own words in a speech at UCLA earlier this month. And they are, quite honestly, absurd.
Barack Obama isn’t going to “save our souls.” No President can save our souls, assuming we even have them. No one man is essential to the future of our nation, but listening to what Michelle Obama, and other Obama supporters say, one gets the clear implication that they believe that Barack Obama is some sort of political savior.
It’s the same sort of attitude I’ve noticed from some Ron Paul supporters, who have said in comments and on the Internet that freedom and America are doomed if Ron Paul is not elected President.
Assertions like this are not only wrong, they’re dangerous. Once you start putting that much faith in a political leader that is a flawed human being just like the rest of us, it really does become the cult of personality that some people have started talking about in connection with Barack Obama.
America’s not perfect Mrs. Obama, but there’s plenty that’s happened in the past 30 years to be proud of. The election of your husband, if it happens, will be an important and possibly transforming event in American history but it will not be the Second Coming and it’s time to start talking about it like it will.
More blogospheric reaction to the statement is gathered by James Joyner