Michelle Obama Finally Proud of USA
Michelle Obama spoke these words in Milwaukee yesterday:
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. [emphasis mine]
The Boston Globe‘s Sasha Issenberg broke the story yesterday afternoon with a slightly different quote: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.”
DRJ thinks Mrs. Obama merely used the wrong word choice — “proud” rather than “enthusiastic” — as a result of long hours on the campaign trail. But these words appeared scripted to me.
Issenberg asks the obvious question: “So what did Michelle Obama think of the United States before her husband decided he wanted to run the place?”
The reaction from all corners of the blogosphere is similar.
Nothing America has done in Michelle Obama’s adult life, which at 44 goes back 26 years to 1982, has made her proud of her country? Nothing? Not winning the Cold War? Not our regular and orderly transitions of power based on the rule of law? Not the fact that we feed and defend the world, not that we lead in science and technology research, not that we elected the first black president in 1992…nothing? Not the fact that she and her husband were able to go to Ivy League schools before embarking on extremely lucrative careers? Not the fact that we help out in disasters wherever they strike in the world?
I wrote not long ago that Michelle Obama is a loose cannon, and I fear that her latest is not her last. I would have thought that two Ivy-League degrees, a joint income of about a million dollars, exclusive private schools for the kids, and a nice home in the suburbs were not so bad and might suggest that hope had made a comeback well before Barack’s presidential run.
This will really turn a lot of people off. For somebody who held a highly-paid PR job, she doesn’t seem to have a clue about how things sound. Someone has to tell her this is a whole new ballgame, especially when the famously sharp Sasha Issenberg is covering her on the campaign trail.
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?
Doesn’t this beg the question, “when did she become an adult”? Yesterday? The question is, will the media pay attention to this gaffe? Probably not much, and that is why the bloggers have to. Will Michelle be this year’s Teresa Heinz Kerry?
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.
It’s comforting to know that America can vindicate itself in Ms. Obama’s eyes by electing Barack president. But it’s unlikely that even her new-found pride in America, and whatever pride her husband might muster, would be sufficient to cause Mr. Obama seriously to defend its sovereignty.
Podhoretz is headed in the right direction; Mirengoff drives it right off a cliff.
It’s not that Left hates America; few do and I can’t imagine the Obamas are among them. But there is a strain of the elite Left that takes the Chomskyan stance of hyper-self-criticism of one’s own country. In bending over backwards not to be jingoistic and judgmental of others — cultural norms are entirely relative, don’t you know (unless they’re oppressive of people of color or womyn, of course) — they emphasize America’s faults to the exclusion of its good.
It’s a useful stance to take, actually, in private. Self-examination is good. Recognizing our limits in changing the world is good. Understanding how others might perceive us is good. But one doesn’t want to say that they’re not proud of their country if they’re looking to lead it. The Obama campaign needs to walk this one back and pronto. This isn’t the kind of “change” Americans are looking for. And it’s the opposite of “hope.”
Unless, of course, you’re Hillary Clinton, who has to be feeling a little more hopeful than yesterday. There’s a reason that Obama is the choice of wealthy, educated Democrats while Hillary appeals to the working class. Michelle Obama drove that lesson home powerfully with these words.
Transcript and video and Breitbart.