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Pride, prejudice and Michelle Obama

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By The Staff

Hannah Hayes

As spin doctors continue to weigh in on Michelle Obama’s comment, it must be obvious that even she would wish to restructure her proud-to-be-an-American sentence for more clear communication. In context, it seems that Michelle Obama was referring to the level of participation this year’s candidates have been able to bring to the primary process. It didn’t quite match the turnout in 1972, but came close. Can Michelle Obama be right that “hope is finally making a comeback”?

When I heard her quote, it spoke to me because I feel a glimmer of pride from her husband’s candidacy. I acquired that feeling on a recent trip to the Netherlands. The locals that I talked with (and no, I didn’t meet hundreds of people — but I did meet some) all expressed the same sentiment. If the U.S. is a country that could elect Barack Obama as its president, that would signal a positive new direction.

Perhaps Obama will be a candidate who embraces the values that “true” patriots like to fantasize were the foundation of this country. Enduring racism, reluctance to acknowledge our violent roots, and injustice at home and abroad have been heightened by the terrible down slide our country endures under the Bush administration. Current events show every loyal citizen just how far we still need to go to achieve the American ideal. Did the media jump on Michelle Obama’s comments because they recognize an uncomfortable truth?

Michelle Obama admits to a problem with sarcasm. I have one too. It can come out while looking at the privileged backgrounds shared by so many presidents’ wives. Cindy Lou Hensley McCain has a lot to be proud of. Oops, that was sarcastic. Born into affluence, chair of the family’s $300-million-a-year Anheuser-Busch distributorship, and sure to protect traditional roles for women, she probably won’t bring any more change to the White House than her husband will. Hopefully, what the people get instead is a first lady who grew up in a working-class family, has a grounded picture of our country, and will introduce an integrity that can sometimes come from humble roots.

It appears that the next president will be a father (we’ve got a long way to go, sisters) to our country. Whom would you rather have? A president who respects his wife and is thinking about our country’s future, or one who abused his wife in front of the press by calling her a trollop and worse, as quoted in “The Real McCain” by Cliff Schecter? It’s no wonder Cindy isn’t saying much, but it does seem that both McCains get an easy ride.

While mud is slinging, keep in mind that those who trust mass media are in for mass deception. This year’s election will require sturdy boots with gaiters to slog through all the political propaganda and get at the important messages.

Rebuttal

The oppression that Michelle Obama knows is deeply embedded in her blood, as she is descended from slaves and slave owners. The Declaration of Independence did not end slavery. Twenty years passed before slave trading stopped. The Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery. Three years later the Thirteenth Amendment was legislated to end slavery. But, equality for people of color, the working class, and the poor remains elusive even today. As Barack Obama said so eloquently in Philadelphia when he spoke on race and racism, what’s needed is “to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.”

As time goes on, volumes will be learned about what truly resonates with Michelle Obama. I don’t think she can be judged by a single sound byte. Her accomplishments are remarkably impressive and her background suggests that as first lady she will include advocacy for who have traditionally been ignored. As her husband says, “What we have already achieved gives us hope — the audacity to hope — for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.”

Kelly Weist

The Declaration of Independence. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Emancipation Proclamation. World War I and World War II. First man on the moon. These are a few of the American achievements I am most proud of. I am also proud of all the everyday events that happen in our communities, neighborhoods, churches, schools and homes that actually make this country the greatest nation on Earth. Apparently, none of them resonate with Michelle Obama, who wants to be first lady of the U.S.

She and her husband apparently have no concept of how lucky they are. Her recent comments on “never having been proud of her country before” seem quite ridiculous to me. If you can’t be proud of any of American’s accomplishments, what can you be proud of? If she can’t be appreciative of the advantages that she and her husband enjoyed, then what does resonate with her?

Michelle and I have fairly similar backgrounds and are about the same age. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, as the daughter of a father who worked for the city and a mother who was a clerk in a department store. She had one brother. She skipped second grade, and went on to attend Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

I grew up in northern lower Michigan as the daughter of a father who worked for the state and a mother who was a medical receptionist. I have one brother and one sister. I went to Catholic schools, could have skipped a couple of grades of school but my mother objected. I ultimately went to Michigan State University and the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.

At about the time of college is where our paths diverge. I didn’t even try to get into Princeton and Harvard, because even though my grades would have gotten me in, I couldn’t afford it.

I didn’t get to join an extremely prestigious law firm and start earning $75,000 a year as a first-year associate. I didn’t get to join Mayor Daley’s administration. I don’t make over $300,000 a year today, and my spouse has no chance at becoming president. But apparently, Michelle Obama still believes that she and others like her are oppressed by people like me, merely because my skin is lighter than hers. (But maybe I’m just “bitter,” clinging to my gun and my God.)

There is no doubt that America has moments we shouldn’t be proud of. Slavery and Jim Crow are such moments, but we’ll never get past them if we keep using race as an excuse. Wearing the mantle of oppression seems to make Michelle Obama happy, and has furthered her career, as well as the campaign of her husband. It’s time that she acknowledged the opportunities and freedom that America grants her, and to be grateful for them. I know I am.

Rebuttal

We definitely do need to slog through all the propaganda and hype, which is the entirety of the Obama campaign. His speech the other night, in which he portrays himself as some kind of messiah, relied heavily on the words “hope” and “change.” I imagine he sees himself as the small kernel of hope left in the box after Pandora released all the evils into the world. (Does that make the Clintons Pandora and Bush the evil released? I’m sure Hannah would say so.) This is how liberals see the world, full of evil and themselves the only pure kernel of hope. Doesn’t matter what they actually do, hope is all you need.

However, I want more than hope. Hope doesn’t make a strong foreign policy, where America must fight for military and diplomatic supremacy, or be crushed. Hope doesn’t create jobs or wealth for anyone. Hope doesn’t reform our health care or education systems. In actuality, on these issues, Barack Obama doesn’t offer hope. He offers purely leftist ideas, those that caused the Cuban missile crisis, stagflation and rationing of health care. Sounds like change for the worse, to me.