Michelle Obama gets it right!

Michelle Obama had this to say during a speech in Milwaukee.

What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something — for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I’ve seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it’s made me proud.

This is a gaffe, no question. This quote is going to make the rounds and is going to hound the Obama campaign all the way to the White House. John McCain’s wife is already making popular-high-school-girl style digs at her “counterpart,” as though Cindy McCain was anywhere near Michelle Obama’s league.

It’s clear to me that this is a gaffe, because the Obama campaign is having to spin this – which is uncharacteristic. By and large, the “spin” out of the Obama campaign has been straightforward – but this comment by campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki doesn’t ring true to me:

What she meant is that she’s really proud at this moment because for the first time in a long time, thousands of Americans who’ve never participated in politics before are coming out in record numbers to build a grassroots movement for change.

But no, that’s not what she meant.

Sure, she’s particularly proud at this moment – she’s the wife of a man who suddenly became one of the most beloved figures worldwide. She’s got to be frickin’ bursting with pride. And she can be equally proud of her country, for moving past cynicism.

Indeed, as the campaign points out, this is a moment that America can be proud of. The 2008 presidential campaign has shown the US and the world as a whole that we are better than George Bush, and we are better than the forces that brought him to power. The whole election cycle, but Obama’s campaign in particular, demonstrates so much less of the arrogance, small-mindedness, and greed that have dominated America’s image for such a long time.

But that’s still not what Michelle Obama meant when she said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”

She actually meant that this was the first time since her childhood. Since then, she  had become disillusioned. She probably didn’t see American foreign policy in the last 20 years as a force for much good in the world. She probably thinks that for years, America has waffled on civil rights for women, blacks, gays, arabs, mexicans, etc etc etc. That there hasn’t been public interest or engagement since the 60’s. That the American dream turned into fucking Chili’s and TGIF.

She maybe didn’t participate in the flag waving and chest thumping and freedom-fry eating of the early 2000s. Maybe she thought that the ugly partisanship of the 1990s was enough for anyone to say a pox on both your houses.

What does it really mean to be proud of your country? To be proud to be an American? It’s different from – it has to be – it has to be different from being on the “America” team.  No offense to Red Sox fans, but there’s no real reason anyone’s a red sox fan versus a yankees fan other than geographic happenstance.  I can’t say with total confidence where pride in America should come from, but I’m sure that it shouldn’t come from having been born here rather than there.

I feel as though the pride that Cindy McCain says she has in America is the same pride she no doubt had for the Central High School Bobcats when she was a cheerleader there.

In the video, it looks like Michelle Obama knew that she was putting her foot in her mouth.

But I think she was being honest – like many Americans, she really hasn’t been proud of America, until now.

And I think that I feel exactly the same way.

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4 Responses to “Michelle Obama gets it right!”


  1. 1 sebastion bach February 20, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I agree, it’s sort of like the gaffe that wasn’t, or something like that. And these little boo-boos are adding-up this week, it seems.

    Your mention of Cindy McCain prompted me to fantasize of a Michelle Obama-Cindy McCain debate. Wouldn’t that be sweet! She’d squash her like Cheney did Edwards three years ago.

  2. 2 ishum February 20, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Word. Just to go over them one MORE time:

    1. Surrogate can’t name a legislative achievement.
    2. Michelle hates America, always has.
    3. Obama is a flip-flopper on public financing.
    4. Obama steals from other people’s speeches.

    Those are the new ones, but a consistent theme for about 3 months now has been

    1. All flash, no substance
    2. no experience
    3. naive

    Am I missing any?

  3. 3 jeje February 20, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    black, muslim, other.

  4. 4 Sebastion Bach February 21, 2008 at 12:22 am

    overstated teen drug use…


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