Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

Hillary, Bill and Joe OK, but Look to Michelle and Jill

Hillary, Bill and Joe set the table for Barack who must deliver the speech of his life tomorrow night in mile high stadium.  Still,  the most telling moments came far away from the podium. The real story could be found in the body language of candidate spouses and family who are in on all the big decisions.  

Consider the following:

Regarding the speakers themselves, their words were compelling but they could have spoken even more forcefully to close the deal for Barack.  Hillary could have and should have reminded her supporters that McCain is a right to life candidate who will appoint right to life judges.  Bill was vintage Bill and he did a great job reminding voters that Barack is ready, but Joe seemed constrained by the text (new writers?), as I am hearing Chuck Todd suggesting. 

But, as Rachel Maddow adroitly pointed out, the democrats could and should have gone after Bush Administration abuses of power, and they didn’t. No mention of Cheney by name and little mention of Bush? I don;t get it. It is not a matter of playing nice. This is a matter of the constitution and rule of law.

The words last evening do not bode well for a truth and reconciliation commission to reveal Bush administration crimes against the state.  No accountability. Again, it doesnt make sense. No Gitmo, no abu -grahb, no us attorney scandal, nothing but an oblique reference to the fear instilled by the image of VP Cheney on the phone; no reference to David Addington or John Yoo.  This is the real red meat which could have and should have reminded voters of one of the most lawless regimes in history, and more of the same mccain.

What gives?

So, to find some red meat, i turned to the sidelines. But then again, the real insights of the week go to the quick glances of Michelle Obama grimacing as Bill started to speak , blocking the camera view of her face with her hands during much of his speech, only to smile in relief and some delight at some of the president’s truly laudatory passages comparing barack to a Bill Clinton in 1992. The insight here is inside stuff, but revealing: no trust between Clintons and Obamas; the Obama campaign was pretty nervous about the speech.  Next, the shot of Michelle wiping tears as Beau introduced his dad did more to humanize Michelle and Barack than her brilliant but somewhat contrived monday night speech.   And then, Jill Biden’s pride of her hubby as Joe began to speak did more to connect Barack to the heartland than anything Biden subsequently said from the podium.

So, here is what I think was achieved last night: it was not so much that the democrats stole the republican thunder on national security and foreign policy, (a theme in Biden’s speech), but they stole a more subtle virtue from the repubs, the republican thunder on family values (compare Barack and Joe with McCain’s philandering), an issue that may well have won the election for bush-cheney in ’04.

and perhaps this is what they intended to do.


Michelle Obama: Race and Post-Racism

Michelle Obama had an impossible task last evening. Her job was to bridge the huge gap between modernity and its still festering wounds of racism, and post modernity where racism and race for that matter are signifiers of things no longer relevant.  Barack has the same challenge which, admit it or not, makes winning this november more difficult than we like to admit.

First, let me agree with Olbermann and suggest that Michelle was brilliant. Now, here’s the challenge.  Michelle’s objective was to 1) sell America on the possibility of having an African-American first family in the White House. This task supposes a modernist America that remains muddied in the racist waters of the not too distant past in terms of law and the very real presence in terms of every day realities. As commentators suggested last evening and this morning, Michelle needed to convince America that the Obama’s were not “the Other.” Something unsettling about having mainstream media discussing and even judging whether the Obama family (a black family) “deserves” or should be considered eligible to be treated like a “white” first family.  I don’t think Cindy McCain will be expected to give this sort of speech.

2) second, has to do with a “post racial” America,  the idea that many people associate with barack’s candidacy.  As the idea applies to Michelle’s speech, she needed to show america that the Obama’s are no different than any other American family.  As unsettling as the first task was, this one strikes a different chord: on the one hand it is such a “no-brainer” as to challenge commentators to say anything at all that is not incredibly stupid or blatantly racist. And is there not something incredibly patronizing about forcing the Obama’s into the white fantasy of a color blind country? You see, the thing about post-racism is that it plays out on two different fields: one is the field of mainstream media fixating on the faux notion that if Obama gets elected, then, fantastically, racism becomes a thing of the past.  Obama’s bio happens to represent the more complex notion of post-race and post-racism.  This is the idea that Obama is mixed race, and is only considered black or african american because of the binary categories established and maintained by mainstream culture.  It is my guess the Obama’s would rather challenge America to think about the latter category of post-race; but last, evening, Michelle was forced into the “black and white” version of the term.

Finally, as much as the Obama’s face an incredible test over the next 70 days or so, I believe the real test lies with the american voter who must answer some vital questions about american identity in the 21st century.