Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of a tactic used in the Obama campaign of 2008 – the deployment of Michelle Obama as a political weapon. She was used to great effect by the campaign to energize and gain support within the cadre of liberal feminists and to play identity politics within the community of black women. In a classic Madison Avenue approach, she was packaged and sold as something that she wasn’t…a member of the downtrodden underclass, just struggling to get by while being held down by The Man.
It was wise late in the 2008 campaign to suggest that Michelle Obama cool it and retrench a bit. There had been one too many “raise the bar,” one too many “downright mean country,” one too many “for the first time in my adult life I’ve really been proud . . .” whines, and the picture was emerging of one who had become increasingly angry since her undergraduate days in direct proportion to the privileges extended her.
Now she’s back on the campaign trail, and for some reason is returning to the same hardball politics. The other day, she thundered, “Will we be a country that tells folks who’ve done everything right but are struggling to get by, ‘Tough luck, you’re on your own’? Is that who we are?”
Given that the federal budget has increased by $2 trillion in just a decade, entitlements are at record levels, and this administration is now running $1.5 trillion annual deficits, it is hard to imagine that any government has told anyone “tough luck.” And it is even harder to suggest that nine months of a Republican-controlled House — voted in as part of the largest midterm correction since 1938 — has had much effect on the Obama employment agenda of nearly three years, the majority of which time Obama controlled both houses of Congress and borrowed nearly $5 trillion in sending unemployment over 9 percent.
And when Ms. Obama charges, “Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Who are we?” one wonders, why, then, in the past three years of hard times, did she insist on vacationing, in iconic fashion, at Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, and Costa del Sol, the tony haunts of “the few at the top”? In these rough times, surely a smaller staff, less travel, and budgetary economies would have enhanced her populist message of some at the top enjoying perks at the expense of others.
In short, even if she does not revert to 2008 style and restart her lamentations about life in her country being unfair, I think it a mistake for any president to put the First Lady out, in highly partisan fashion, on the campaign trail to attack her husband’s political rivals. And, I think, the public unease with it will soon prove the point.
Michelle Robinson Obama’s biography relates a picture that is anything but a representation of being held back by The Man, a victim of white oppression, racism or anything of the like. Biography.com related this:
Michelle Obama was born January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985 and went on to earn a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following law school, she worked at a Chicago law firm, where she met her husband. The couple married in 1992. As First Lady she has focused her attention on current social issues.
Sound like a disadvantaged person to you? How many of our readers got into Princeton and Harvard? How many after taking on the debt to go, could eschew a career in law to:
…launch a career in public service, serving as an assistant to Mayor Daley and then as the assistant commissioner of planning and development for the City of Chicago.
Must have not had all that student debt that her husband is promising the #OWS crowd relief from.
Michelle was raised on Chicago’s South Side in a one-bedroom apartment.
Wow. Finally a disadvantage, right? Not quite…what they conveniently leave out is that that apartment was in a two-story house on Euclid Street in Chicago’s South Shore community area. Her parents rented a small apartment on the house’s second floor from her great-aunt, who lived downstairs, so not like a squalid, cramped apartment – how much do you want to bet that the family had the run of Auntie’s house?
Her father was a city union worker (and a Democratic precinct captain), her mom a secretary at Spiegel in Chicago. She also attended magnet schools, learned French, was in student government and graduated from a Chicago area magnet high school.
Maybe not an idyllic childhood but hardly the mean streets of Compton – more middle class than food stamp.
This is not specifically about Michelle Obama but it is about a class of people who seem to be unappreciative of the advantages that America has provided for them (and I will not say “given” because they did put forth the effort to achieve) and would rather condemn the country for those very opportunities – somehow they are able to conjure up a scenario where these just simply are not enough.
There are always those people who are not going to be appreciative, no matter what is done for them because in their minds, nothing is ever enough. Like a spoiled teenager who gets a blue Ferrari for their 16th birthday and throws a hissy fit because it isn’t the red one that they really, really wanted, these people are doomed to be the perpetually unsatisfied.
There are people like this in every segment of society but even then, there are two distinct groups.
The first group are the perpetually unsatisfied who, rather than focus externally, look internally to find the drive to secure the “next thing” that satiate their particular need. These people are evidenced in business, in sport and in the public sector as the “drivers” and “change agents”. Their relentless focuses on personal achievements create success…and sometimes collateral damage as well. These people are often seen as workaholics, impatient perfectionists or “Type A” personalities. They are usually hyper-critical of their own performance. You never will see a “Type A” dwell on what someone else did or did to them, you may see them steam-roll over that impediment, but you will never hear them whine. Being highly competitive, they measure themselves by measuring their wins and losses, tending to quantify all of life’s situations that way – they gauge themselves by how well their performance stacks up against the performance of competition.
The latter group is the whiners, those people who are never satisfied with their situations and rather than looking internally, look externally to blame others for their perceived lack of satisfaction, success and happiness. These people are marked by their interest in the success and activities of others and seek to use these observations to explain their own failures or lack of success. Rather than measuring success and happiness in their own terms, they measure it in terms of how well others do. If someone gets a promotion at work, instead of objectively looking at what their own qualifications are, they immediately chalk it up to favoritism, cronyism, office politics or “they were sleeping with the boss” – anything other than accepting that they might not be as experienced, as qualified or even a fit to the position. In other words, someone else is to blame for their situation…anyone but themselves.
While the “Type A’s” tend to be described as selfish and greedy, the second group fits that bill far more accurately. These folks are remarkably selfish, self-righteous, sanctimonious, smug and envious. They can be adamant that they are the best, the elite, even in the face of mountains of proof to the contrary. Often they see failure as success because they believe that they are properly motivated. They are seldom wrong and always play a “zero sum” game – for someone to win, someone else has to lose, for someone to be rich, they must have stolen it from someone else, for someone to do better than they do, it has to be at their disadvantage – it couldn’t possibly be any fault of their own.
Note: I am not implying that if you are a “Type B” personality in the classical definition that you are part of the second group, I only used the “Type A” designation because it is a personality type that most people will recognize.
They put high premiums on pedigrees in breeding as well as education, thinking that they should be given deference by right of birth or by virtue of the name of the institution on their diploma. This is evident not only in the “high born”, the privileged upper East Coast types who tend to gravitate toward the ivy halls of academia – the same folks who look down on anybody born outside that area as a troglodyte or hold a degree from Mississippi State University as intellectually inferior – but in the “low born” as well – as if being born poor or black conveys some sort of special condition of purity that resists impeachment and invalidates questions of motive.
These are the people who are obsessed with what other people have or do. They would rather see a successful person fail than anybody succeed. They live zero-sum lives. This is the reason for the proliferation of these moronic “reality” TV shows like Big Brother, Jersey Shore, Teen Mom and The Real Housewives of Atlanta (or New Jersey, Orange County…or wherever). There is a growing segment of the American population who want to make themselves feel superior by watching and celebrating a bunch of pathetic losers. They applaud themselves, not for being better, just for not being as pathetic – never mind that those pathetic losers are making a good living pretending to be shameless.
People can be part of this group by association by giving political support to, and placing their trust and futures in the hands of, leaders who exhibit these traits.
The ultimate arrogance of this group is that in spite of their success (and I would call becoming president a big accomplishment, no matter your skin color), they presuppose that they are so special, so gifted that no one else could possibly achieve an equal or greater amount of success without their intervention.
I submit that Michelle Obama falls into the second group of the perpetually unsatisfied, as do most of the Democrats, “progressives” and other members of any “left of center” groups that are calling for the “evil rich” to be taxed out of existence (I’ll leave the #OWS crowd out because they are just pawns in this game, they aren’t even smart enough to know that they are being used).
I have nothing against Michelle Obama on a personal level – nor do I her husband – but the Michelle’s of the world justify their arrogance and ease their gnawing sense of empty accomplishment by confiscating and redistributing the product of someone else’s labor, innovation or intellect – not for the benefit of the recipient – but because they are angry, frustrated and/or embarrassed that even with their self-anointed superiority, the creation of that wealth is beyond their ability to achieve. They, like the reality show fans, judge their superiority and worth based on people they presume to be worth less than themselves, not true achievement.
The root of this redistributive urge isn’t altruism or public service, it is envy and selfishness. The faster that we learn this, the faster this reality show comes to an end.
Smitty at The Other McCain has this.