Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I was away from the television last night and will have limited access for the rest of the Democratic convention, but plenty of other people watched the show, including particularly Michelle Obama's speech. Andrew Sullivan has a nice round-up of reactions from reasonable bloggers of the left and right, plus this observation:

Ambers gets at something here:
[Michelle Obama] is the most modern of first ladies-in-waiting, but the Obama's marriage and family life are the most traditional of any presidential candidate's family in recent memory.

There's no question that if you judge the candidates on their actual lives, rather than mythologies, the Obamas are extremely mainstream and conservative. Married for life, great parents, very humble beginnings, driven meritocrats. No divorce or adultery - and regular religious attendance and faith. And yet they are tagged as elitists and radicals. Yes, they're liberals in policy, although not radically so. But they're conservatives in their lives.

Withhold the snarky comments about Andrew Sullivan and traditional marriage -- you know his point, and it is tough to argue with. Fortunately for me, I am the unusual conservative, apparently, who does not care to hear about the state of anybody's marriage.

Looking around this morning, the reaction to Michelle's speech seems almost universally positive, at least from people trying to make a fair judgment rather than a partisan one. See, e.g., Rick Lowry of the National Review.

In some ways, Michelle poses a greater challenge for white acceptance than Barack does. She was raised in a black family, makes no attempt to appeal to the white roots she does not in any case have, and she's the "candidate" for first lady. Americans seem to have an ideal in mind when they think about the first lady; the job has been tough enough on women who did not fit a particular model, and great offenses are often ascribed to them in the popular imagination (see, e.g., Eleanor Roosevelt, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Clinton, not that I am defending any of those people). First Lady Michelle Obama would be a dramatic, jarring, revealing, awakening, slap in the face for Americans who want their first lady a certain way. That might be just what we need.

Too bad they're such lefties.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 26, 09:41:00 AM:

How do black supremacists qualify as "not radical"? Or is the far left the new center?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 26, 10:51:00 AM:

It is refreshing to find a right-wing blogger who has an open mind regarding Michelle Obama's story and speech. Thanks!

Too often partisan Republican's tear down Democratic candidates like Obama and Biden for being out of touch with mainstream "family values" in America. Yet, when you look into their personal histories -- accepting that no human being is perfect -- they do, indeed, represent what is best about America in terms of "family values."  

By Blogger Riposte, at Tue Aug 26, 11:17:00 AM:

Sorry if I expect a bit more political acuity from this fine website. Are we to judge character now by the latest speech? What of her history of speeches and public comments, her alternating stridency and strategic muteness during the campaign? The speech last night was pure, empty ephemera, what she knew she had to say and to the delvery of which was applied her considerable awareness of the stakes, skills and impressive stagecraft of her equally power-driven keepers.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 26, 11:22:00 AM:

I thought Michelle Obama (I loved her dress and brooch, btw. Fashion digression: it's nice to see so many dresses these days.) gave a great performance, not a great speech. Important distinction, I think. The speech, while touching (I liked hearing about her family and was particularly moved by her father's battle with multiple sclerosis) was pretty standard fare, I think. It was like cake. It tasted good for the moment, but, not much nutrition there. Which is fine. Which is probably enough.

Okay, enough harrumphing. I watched the Fox News coverage of the speech and found Juan Williams remarks moving, too. He seemed almost teary eyed. Good to see a solid African American family up there on the stage, said he. This is such a great moment for African Americans, he said. It was lovely to see and hear his warm-hearted and sentimental comments.

Still not gonna vote for the guy, but, you have to hand it to the Obamas. They give very nice *performances* (I am being snarky) and they seem to be a genuinely loving family (I am not being snarky, here).

Well, whatever. May the best man win.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 26, 12:34:00 PM:

You make a very fine point in understanding the nature of the difference between the personal and the political.

We sometimes allow ourselves to be confused by the differences. The personal can persuade us that these are people "just like us", and that therefore they can be trusted to run the country. And they are probably nice people, in the personal sense. Most people that have encountered Mr. Obama in his personal life find him to be personable, likable and intelligent.

The specifics of the "political" though, inform us of the fundamental differences in the nature of what people actually believe. With the "best of intentions", poor political judgement by otherwise "nice people" can lead to grievous consequences.


By Blogger Caveat B, at Tue Aug 26, 12:58:00 PM:

Since we've erased George W. and Laura Bush from our recent memory?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Aug 26, 01:07:00 PM:

My spouse's impression (I had an early wake-up call and couldn't stay up) throughout Michelle Obama's speech last night was "she's not Hillary!".

In the rush to absolve Hillary from her history, let's at least not forget the very strong impression Hillary made initially when she and Bill first appeared as stars at the 1992 convention. She made sure we knew she was a successful lawyer, a respected business person, friend to the rich and famous, all on her own. She was Bill's domestic partner, yes, but a "wife and mother"? No, not that, never.

Michelle gave the anti-Hillary speech, insofar as her goal was to leave the audience with exactly the opposite impression Hillary sought to create so long ago. Oddly, Hillary has turned out to be very mainstream as a Senator, effective at working across the isle. Michelle Obama is recreating her image right now too, but probably isn't the person she wishes us to believe her to be. Are the Obamas closer in spirit to the black separatist Rev. Wright, to whom Barack was introduced by last night's wife-and-mother, or Bill Ayers, whom Barack met all on his own, or are they closer to the "personally conservative" person displayed to us last night?

Either way, this was early going last night. The real meat of the matter comes when Obama the candidate himself tells us whether he believes in applied socialism, including confiscatory taxes and redistributive social polices, or whether he will sign on to modern welfare reform and some sort of modified supply side tax theory. If he won’t, I could care less if he’s married to the Wicked Witch of the West or Mother Theresa, I won’t vote for him.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Aug 26, 01:23:00 PM:

I don't think he'll tell us anything. At least nothing honest. He gotten this far with empty feel-good rhetoric and convenient pseudo-positions... why change?  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Tue Aug 26, 06:14:00 PM:

Her goal with the speech was to convince white, undecided voters to accept Barack Obama as a "reasonable guy". If I was asked to give a speech about my wife and my family in front of millions of people, and our livelihood depended on the outcome...would I REALLY be completely honest?

NO....if you want to know about the real Michelle Obama...look at who she associates with, what she says when she thinks nobody is looking, who she praises and who she hates.

From that perspective I do not feel that she has a conservative lifestyle, a populist appeal or a desire to represent America as someone who appreciates what America has done for her and her family.  

By Blogger Sissy Willis, at Tue Aug 26, 07:25:00 PM:

I have to admit that had I not already gotten Michelle Obama's America-bashing number awhile back based upon many unscripted moments, her breathtaking beauty, grace under stress and supreme acting ability last night might have fooled my foolish heart.  

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