I don’t normally write much about the First Lady here at Hot Air. It’s not that I particularly like or dislike Michelle Obama, but rather that there isn’t much news about her which needs to occupy a discussion of American politics, government or policy. (That’s by design, by the way.) Sure, I’ve had my disagreements about some of her signature personal issues involving diet and gardening, but that’s really small potatoes (pun intended) in the larger scheme of things. Mostly, what happens in the East Wing stays in the East Wing.
But Ms. Obama stepped out of those comfy confines recently to give the commencement address to the graduating class at Tuskegee University and it was… interesting, to say the least. Your typical commencement address tends to contain some platitudes about the state of the world that the graduates will be entering, some bits of advice nobody can remember after the kegger to follow and perhaps a few bits of personal reflection. Michelle Obama, however, took it in a different direction. Our friend Andrew Malcolm at Investors.com explains.
While hubby played golf this Mother’s Day weekend, Mrs. Obama went to Alabama’s Tuskegee University’s. Her 3,700 words began in standard form, but quickly became a detailed recounting of American racism including the famed Tuskegee airmen who overcame it seven decades ago.
Then, her address took a turn we’ve become accustomed to expect more from her husband: The celebration of 500 hard-won graduations became instead a speech more about her. To hear the first lady tell it, this has been a pretty rough time for her, living in the White House rent-free with her mother. Many sleepless nights. Taking numerous globe-girdling trips to five-star suites costing taxpayers in excess of $44 million.
“As potentially the first African American First Lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations; conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and mis-perceptions of others. Was I too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Or was I too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?
“Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
She said that it all really got to her. “I had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name calling, the doubting — all of it was just noise. It did not define me. It didn’t change who I was. And most importantly, it couldn’t hold me back.”
I’m sorry… but held you back from what? I’ve had this conversation far too many times when it comes to First Ladies, both Republican and Democrat, and it always boils down to the same thing. You can review the Constitution and the various federal laws of the land over and over, as much as you like, and the official duties of the First Lady (or, ahem… First Gentleman) are precisely zero, zip, zilch, nada. Anything the First Lady decides to do is entirely up to her. If she wants to sit around in the official residence all day, every day, wearing sweat pants, eating Junior Mints and watching Dr. Phil, there’s really not a person on Earth who can gainsay her choices with the possible exception of her husband. (And good luck with that, buddy.)
Nobody likes hearing or reading bad things about themselves… I get that. But what perceived failure was Michelle Obama worrying about all this time? Did she fret over the possibility that she would be viewed as having a failed tenure as First Lady? I don’t even know what that means. It’s possible that we’ve reached the point where everyone is taking far too seriously the nonsense of Hillary Clinton supporters when they talk about her “experience” as First Lady in her run for the White House. It’s not experience. It’s not a job. You can’t possibly fail at it. So relax, enjoy, and break out the Junior Mints. Trust me… they’re yummy.