Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Lady Vanquishes


Michelle Obama gave a stirring speech last night.  The speech was very well received, and centered on her humble roots, The First Couple's financial struggles early on in their marriage,  and her love for her husband, President Barack Obama. The best line for me was:

Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are -- it reveals who you are.

See the speech below.


Seeing the First Lady up there at the podium swelled my hardened little heart, as I remembered the rocky road that Michelle Obama has endured to get to where she is, and the (racialized) insults that she still endures today.

Michelle Obama started out being portrayed as an example of The Angry Black Woman stereotype.  She was consistently painted as angry, and un-American.  Michelle was not the typical political wife, as she had not spent years polishing her routine, and she was prone to making errors, like  saying "for the first time in my life, I am proud of my country."  Interestingly enough, Michelle was the breadwinner of her family, supporting Barack and her children in the years before his book became a success and he became a politically well-known figure.

In the intervening years since she has moved into the White House, Michelle Obama has redefined her image to be "less threatening."  No longer a working woman with her own separate career, she has declared herself to be the "Mom-in-Chief", and devoted herself to inoffensive initiatives like promoting military families, growing vegetables, and eating healthier.  However, even her forays into encouraging healthy eating have not been without controversy. Right-wing figures, like Rush Limbaugh and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (models of health, themselves) can't seem to stop calling Michelle Obama fat. While Michelle has called for healthy portions and moderate eating, not cutting out every bit of fat and sugar from a person's diet, conservatives have scrutinized every morsel that Michelle eats, pronouncing it all as unhealthy.

But Michelle has managed to keep a sense of humor about herself, winning her many fans.  I especially like the video of her and Jimmy Fallon competing over various athletic events.

And try as I might, I can't seem to think of another First Lady that would look so comfortable and at ease doing the Dougie with students:


Michelle's speech last night was remarkable on the merits.  But for someone who has publicly acknowledged struggling with the traditional role that being the First Lady inhabits, it also showed remarkable growth as well.


  1. For all the disagreements I have with Barack, I like Michelle quite a bit. It is incredibly difficult to be a politician's spouse, especially one in the spotlight as much as the president is (especially this president), and she handles it well.

  2. And she's a smart lawyer, and she doesn't do much back-seat-taking :-)