Thursday, June 12, 2008

Words do matter.

Now that Barack Obama is officially the Democrat nominee for President, his questionable associations will be even more heavily scrutinized.

He will continually attempt to distance himself from his now former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

He can also dismiss his association with a radical (William Ayers) who said he didn’t regret participating in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972.

And it remains to be seem whether or not Obama’s political favors for a recently convicted criminal will come back to haunt him.

Of course, it would not be wise to underestimate the charismatic Obama. After all, he’s gotten within striking distance of the White House on little more than a slew of platitudes.

But how will he distance himself from the comments made by the woman to whom he’s been married for over 15 years? In the past 18 months, Michelle Obama has made some of the more outlandish statements ever uttered by a potential First Lady.

It all started in February 2007, when asked by 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft if she worried about some crazy person with a gun targeting her husband if he were to run for President. Michelle Obama replied, "I don't lose sleep over it because the realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”

What a damning indictment of how she perceived America. I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising that she conveyed earlier this year that it was the first time in her adult lifetime that she was really proud of her country. That statement, of course, seems to be in direct conflict to what her husband said in his initial signature moment. In Senator Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he talked of the United States as the place where an African immigrant married a Midwestern white woman and their son could go on to Harvard Law School and run for the U.S. Senate. “In no other country on earth, is my story even possible”, Obama said.

The fact of the matter is if Michelle Obama is going to make public speeches, her words are going to be scrutinized. Apparently Senator Obama doesn’t think she should be held accountable for such rhetoric. Of course, he’ll have witting accomplices in the mainstream media who will construe any GOP criticism of Michelle’s words as misogynistic and racist.

Hence, New York Times columnist Maureen’s Dowd’s Wednesday offering:

Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of “Kill the witch.”

There are some who think it will be harder for America to accept a black first lady — the national hostess who serenely presides over the White House Christmas festivities and the Easter egg roll — than a black president.

In their narrative of how Hillary lost in The Times on Sunday, Jim Rutenberg and Peter Baker said that Mark Penn argued that Hillary should subtly stress Obama’s “lack of American roots.”

That’s a good preview of how Republicans will attack Michelle, suggesting that she does not share American values, mining a subtext of race.

Sorry, but it’s not racist to strenuously object to a woman who states a man can be shot at a gas station simply because he’s black. And certainly no one is being demonized when they’re given examples of what has been great about this country since 1982 (the year Michelle Obama became a legal adult).

Don’t tell me words don’t matter.


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