Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Michelle Obama's Pride


The right-wingers have been having fun with Michelle Obama's statement, "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change." Brit Hume decided to pretend that the statement excluded the possibility that she was proud of certain things the country has done (such as pushing back the invasion of Kuwait). Today Michelle Obama has issued a clarification of her remarks,
“What I was clearly talking about was that I’m proud in how Americans are engaging in the political process,” according to the Associated Press. “For the first time in my lifetime, I’m seeing people rolling up their sleeves in a way that I haven’t seen and really trying to figure this out - and that’s the source of pride that I was talking about.”
I believe that Michelle Obama was speaking to the feeling among many minority groups that the are marginalized and "don't really count". Under this interpretation it is a statement about race, and pride in a nation that is moving past the idea that "America is not ready for a black President." It's a bit like G.W.'s talking in code to the religious right - I suspect that her words were intended to resonate with a lot of people she hopes will vote for her husband over Clinton.

Why have Michelle Obama say the words? Because there is a recognition that any mention of race can inspire this sort of thing - "Maybe Democrats won't see it as a big deal, but the Republicans will. If Obama wins the nomination, they'll find some creative ways to spin it. I can just see the attack ads now - fear mongering commercials blasting that 'unapologetic Muslim' and his 'unpatriotic wife' who want to lead this nation in a 'time of war.'". Yeah, and in 1992 Hillary Clinton was depicted as a promiscuous lesbian who couldn't bake cookies - but it didn't cause her husband to lose the election. We voters barely care who the VP is, let alone the First Lady.

This is the sort of thing that can cause a right-wing nutter to make a poor choice of words or even curl up in a ball and suck his thumb. "Racialists"? Why shy away from the word "racist"? Must everybody speak in code?

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