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Michelle Obama Goes Off The Reservation

by @ 9:27 am on February 19, 2008. Filed under 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Politics

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:

Uploaded by krs601

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

6 Responses to “Michelle Obama Goes Off The Reservation”

  1. omelas says:

    Since you bothered to quote her, could you at least interprete her quote correctly? She didn’t say never; she said really.

    Let’s try some basic English, shall we? If I say, “For the first time in my adult life, I really enjoy my job,” I have not said that I have never enjoyed a job before this one. Is that in any way not clear?

  2. How does adding the word “really” change anything ?

  3. [...] addressed that issue yesterday and the words ring even truer in light of stuff like this: Barack Obama isn’t going to “save [...]

  4. shadan ardalan says:


    Omelas attempted to demonstrate how adding the word “really” matters.

    The implication by those who are negatively interpreting Michelle Obama’s comment is that she has never ever been proud of America. The implication by those who positively interpret her comment is that while she may have had pride for her country in the past, she has more pride now.

    You have my apologies if you don’t understand how adding the word “really” changes anything.

    Frankly, I believe her sin is acknowledging that she has had disappointment in this country. I can’t say that I was proud when I see this people of this country dishonestly attack the patriotism of those who have serve honorably for no better reason than to try to win an election (see Max Cleland, John Kerry, and even John McCain).

    But I do share in Michelle’s pride to see people in this country energized, excited, inspired about the future. Maybe we’ll break 60% voter turnout in November!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Michelle Obama meant what she said. She’s a black racist. I cringe to think of her in the White House. She is a perfect representative of a person who got into Ivy League schools because of a genetic factor that met their deomgraphic wishes. But she certainly is not an intelligent person. That is clear in her statments.

    I don’t understand the argument that if I say “for the first time I’m proud of my country,” it doesn’t mean that I’ve never been proud of my country before — that’s exactly what it means.

  6. [...] at Obama campaign rallies, endless paens to hope, Chris Matthews getting shivers up his leg, and Michelle Obama’s miscues. They were going to do what they probably should’ve done a long time ago, ask Barack Obama the [...]

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