Michelle Malkin’s Lazy “Baby Momma” Excuses

I’m not fan of Michelle Malkin, but she’s perfectly justified in complaining when her critics employ sexist and racist stereotypes to dismiss her arguments and positions out of hand. And you’d think that’d make her more self-aware and sympathetic when other people receive the same the same lazy treatment. Isn’t it better to stand on unmoving principle about what’s acceptable and honest in public discourse, rather than pretending that any tit justifies any tat?

Apparently not. When FoxNews recently ran a graphic calling Michelle Obama “Obama’s baby momma,” Malkin was quick to both (legitimately) deny any responsibility and then simply belittle the idea that it was objectionable.

For Malkin, instead of a chance to unabashedly exercise a principle, it was just another chance to play into her usual game of interpretive innuendo.

Malkin’s stock and trade is all about spinning out character narratives, using each little news tidbit to shore up a consistent psychological caricature of her enemies (she’s far from alone in this of course: Dan Quayle = stupid, Gore = boring, Ford = clumsy, Bush = phony folksy stupid). And in this case, the narrative is that Obama and his wife are privileged affirmative-action babies who want special treatment, kid gloves, and the right to whine at any ill-treatment.

But politicians and their allies are constantly criticized, insulted, belittled, and they and their allies are constantly hitting hits back, objecting to the characterization, demanding apologies. Every single partisan and candidate does it, and every single partisan and candidate does it back. The pattern has (sadly) come to almost completely dominate political new cycles.

In Malkin’s little game, however any time the Obamas or anyone in their political corner objects or pushes back to an attack on their character, she portrays this as more evidence that they’re precious and spoiled. Important Republicans, of course, can push back and object to offensive characterizations all they want. Usually with all the righteous fury Malkin and her carefully controlled stable of yes-men commenters can muster to shore them up. And there’s no overall conclusion to be drawn about their complaining (unless of course, they stray from the party line).

Thus, perfectly everyday political behavior becomes some sort of extraordinarily important and unique insight into the character of the Obamas. A narrative is born, where every element that helps fold into the caricature is blown out of proportion, every element against it is ignored. Again, Malkin is hardly alone on this (McCain’s supposedly outrageous and unbridled temper is another of these narratives), but she’s none the better for indulging in it so consistently.

As to the actually content of Malkin’s belittling, it’s a rather feeble attempt. Her basic retort is that Michelle Obama used a phrase similar to “baby momma” herself. But the only documented version she can muster is a reference to Michelle calling Obama her “babies’ daddy.” For her fan club of commenters this of course ends the subject entirely: in fact, as far as they are concerned, when FOXNews associates the Obamas with illiterate Ebonicized slang and implies that their children are bastards, that reflects poorly on critics for daring to complain.

For the rest of us though, the difference seems pretty clear: the FOXNews version is ungrammatical “Ebonics” slang that conjures up a stereotypical broken black family, a single-mother’s former lover and the deadbeat father of her children. While this sort of thing might pass muster in decidedly more playful and lightweight venues like People magazine, most people seem to think it’s out of bounds in supposed serious political reporting. Does Malkin? She never really bothers to say beyond musing over whether its author was “making a lame attempt to be hip, clueless about the original etymology of the phrase, or both.”

The reference Mrs. Obama used, “My babies’ daddy, Barack Obama,” might or might not be characterized as slang itself, but it was neither ungrammatical nor has quite the implication as “baby momma” or “baby daddy” being tossed out in the midst of a hit piece, and was pretty obviously a term of endearment, not belittlement.

The only reference she offers for Michelle Obama actually using the exact phrase “baby daddy” is a pseudonymous anti-Obama poster in the John McCain Forum of website topix. But apparently, this empty source is enough for her to declare that critics don’t want to “let the facts get in the way” of their outrage.

And in any case, it’s not clear that her argument would make sense even if Michelle Obama had used the slang at some informal venue.

Presumably if Malkin had ever referred to herself using self-effacing language, such as jokingly calling herself “a bitch” (something lots of women I know do from time to time) she still wouldn’t think it appropriate for MSNBC to then use that as justification to run that as a label under her talking head during an interview. Nor would her own earlier usage of the term be a good excuse for MSNBC to play down the offensiveness and unprofessional nature of their own usage.

In fact, anyone that brought it up would seem remarkably desperate and self-serving.

Update: Malkin apparently doesn’t think I made my case strong enough. She’s now written a post entitled “The new, unreality-based Michelle Obama-as-GOP victim meme.” But ask yourself: is this really a “meme,” or is Malkin herself the one playing up ordinary back and forth politics in order to perpetuate her overall caricature?

And just to provide another example of sloppy reasoning, Malkin is trying to claim that random anonymous commenters on an ABCnews blog (as well as comedians and nutpicked bloggers) saying nasty things about Laura Bush wasting jet fuel are somehow equivalent to the full-frontal assault being launched against Mrs. Obama on mainstream and supposedly serious news shows.

What’s her argument here in any case? When George Bush ran in 2000 and 2004, was his wife ever a huge story and point of controversy? And to the degree she ever was, is she claiming that Bush never spoke out, would have spoken out, or should have spoken out in defense of his wife and her character? Isn’t this a standard that Malkin applies to no one but Democratic candidates and their spouses?

I mean, what exactly is she suggesting that it would be legitimate and rational for Obama to do in response to the criticism: nod and thank everyone for their concerns?


16 Responses to Michelle Malkin’s Lazy “Baby Momma” Excuses

  1. Rock says:

    Nice spin but very well articulated, unfortunately the truth hurts doesn’t it? Which is for the most part precisely what Michelle Malkin expresses and very well might I add!

  2. Bad says:

    Given the complete lack of content in your comment, and the complete lack of any specific reference to any issue or argument mentioned in my post, I’m just going to assume that the above was posted by some sort of autoreply webscript rather than a real person who actually read what I wrote.

  3. Glazius says:

    Nice spin but very well articulated, unfortunately the truth hurts doesn’t it?

    Yeah, this smacks of bot. I mean… the truth is that Barack actually abandoned his wife and left her to raise two children on her own?

    I’m glad I live in the reality-based community.

  4. Patton says:

    Baby’s Daddy is just as much slang as Baby Momma.
    Michelle simply used the plural because they have two children.

    baby daddy
    1. a male, often a boyfriend or an ex-boyfriend. Most often means the father of, or someone who provides for, a female’s child. Derived from “he is my baby’s daddy.” “When my baby daddy get back, he’ll bust you in your grill!” Lyrical reference: JOE LYRICS – Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me “”Your man fiance trick ya baby daddy…””

    The Obamas have been having fun using Hip Hop culture to look cool for the young voters such as the hand bump, but they can’t have it both ways. If they want to portay themselves as part of hip hop culture, don’t complain when others do the same.

    No different then Bush cracking jokes about his poor language skills and education and then having the media use that meme’ repeatedly to discuss Bush. It would be
    ridiculous for Bush to then complain about the media discussing the issue.

  5. scott says:

    Excuse me? She “quotes” MO herself. Unless of course you’re claiming that MM is making that up.

    Regardless, whether MM’s logic is slim or not, it is pretty clear that the media and the left clearly have no problem with hate speech as long as it is directed at Republicans. MM’s examples of posts about Laura Bush are just those examples. She has catalogued other mainstream media examples of black and anti-semetic hate speech. Yet the smallest example of any of that from the right, including from an un-moderated blog, and somehow ALL of the right is to be condemed. Her point is well made that hypocrisy drips from the liberal left.

    Your point is correct – she “simply belittle the idea that it was objectionable”, yet she then was attacked in VILE terms. Your criticism at least is civil, perhaps you can now attack those who would attack in VILE terms a thinly reasoned commentary.

    At this point I’ll go will MM. I don’t see that kink of hate in her posts, or the comments on her blog.

    From the MM post –

    Here’s how she introduced him during his Senate victory speech on Nov. 2, 2004:

    MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: My baby’s daddy Barack Obama. Yeah!

    BARACK OBAMA, SENATOR-ELECT, ILLINOIS: Thank you, Illinois. Thank you. Thank you, Illinois. I don’t know about you but I’m still fired up. I am fired up. Look at this crowd. Thank you, Illinois.

    Let me begin by thanking all the people who have been involved in this effort from down state to upstate, city, suburb, from every community throughout the state. Let me say how grateful I am to all of you for the extraordinary privilege of standing here this evening.

    Let me thank, because I will forget later on, it’s a thankless task, let me thank right now the best political staff that has been put together in this state. They are wonderful. You know who you are. You guys have been outstanding. I appreciate all of you.

    Let me thank my pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. (ph) of Trinity United Church of Christ, fellow Trinitarians out there. Let me thank all the elected officials who have stood by me through thick and through thin but most of all let me thank my family.

    I am so grateful to my nephew Aber (ph), my niece Leslie (ph), my mother-in-law Marian (ph), my brother-in-law Craig Robinson, his wonderful girlfriend Kelly (ph), my sister Maya (ph), my new niece Zuhayla (ph) right there, my brother-in-law Conrad and most of all, most of all, my two precious daughters Malia (ph) Obama and Sasha (ph) Obama and the biggest star in the Obama family until the two girls grow up the love of my life Michelle Obama, give it up for Michelle. Give it up.

  6. Bad says:

    Patton says: Baby’s Daddy is just as much slang as Baby Momma.

    “My babies’ daddy” is grammatical, literate English. “Obama’s Baby Momma” is not.

    The Obamas have been having fun using Hip Hop culture to look cool for the young voters such as the hand bump, but they can’t have it both ways.

    Except that a) you folks haven’t provided sufficient evidence of that so far. b) even if you had, my other argument still stands.

    No different then Bush cracking jokes about his poor language skills and education and then having the media use that meme’ repeatedly to discuss Bush.

    Give me a break. If Bush once said that “I’m a little stupid about these things” and then CNN introduced him as “our stupid President” you, Malkin, and everyone else would be up in arms. And rightly so.

  7. Bad says:

    Excuse me? She “quotes” MO herself.

    Did you read my post? I already discussed this quote: the “my babies’ daddy” one. Why are you accusing me of ignoring it?

    It’s the “baby daddy” one which has no better source than a random unknown person anti-Obama person on a McCain messageboard.

    scott: MM’s examples of posts about Laura Bush are just those examples.

    Her examples are ridiculous comparisons. She quotes pseudonymous commenters, and a no-name San Fransico blogger. She cites nothing at all on the same order from any of the major networks or newspapers. This is what’s known as “nutpicking”: i.e. scouring the entire interest for a couple of outrageous but far from representative quotes, and trying to pin them on targets who never said or endorsed those ideas, merely by association. She offers no serious evidence at all that Laura Bush was attacked anywhere near as harshly in 2000 or 2004 by the mainstream media or mainstream commentators as she and her Fox Friends have been going after Mrs. Obama.

  8. Patton says:

    You may want to review Obama’s prior Hip Hop references. Clearling Michelle was parroting the slang Baby Daddy, not saying ‘My childrens Father’. Just so you know they don’t have ‘babies’, their children are 9 and 7.

    Second, Obama has used several other refernces to hip hop culture not just the hand bump, the baby’s Daddy. There was also:

    Obama gesture used the day after the Philadelphia debate (no, not the middle-finger thing) when he literally and dramatically brushed the metaphorical dirt in the form of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s many charges against him, from his shoulder. It was a clearly copying Jay Z’s video for the rap song from the rapper’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”



    Go read some Hip-Hop blogs on Obama..apprently they get the references that you do not. Regards

  9. Bad says:

    Patton says: Clearling Michelle was parroting the slang Baby Daddy

    But she still didn’t actually use the Ebonicized slang version, and in any case, even if she had, that hardly means that she was “asking for” an even more pointed form of it to be used to smear and belittle her.

    No no no, you see: we can be quite sure that FOXNews carefully vetted the term against their complete database of everything Michelle Obama has ever said to make sure that it was all good in the hood, right? That was, totally, their perfectly balanced and innocent attitude going into the thing, and not a woman and a culture that they sneer at.

    Well, except for the fact that FOXNews doesn’t think so, and apologized, without the desperate flailing about of “well we think she might have said it about herself at one point, so therefore it was a legitimate way to characterize her in political journalism” stuff.

    Go read some Hip-Hop blogs on Obama..apprently they get the references that you do not.

    Which is all entirely irrelevant to the issue, but whatever.

    I’m glad to see you carefully taking the time to immerse yourself in knowledge of hip hop culture all for such a deeply noble purpose as sneering at someone using references to it, and defending a petty smear.

  10. Patton says:

    The basic problem Obama has is he wants things both ways, he wants the good that comes to him from these asscoaitions, but he doesn’t want to be stuck with the bad.

    This has been an on-going pattern:

    He wants the young, hip coolness that comes with relating to hip-hop, but doesn’t want to be stuck with the mysogny, anti-society, rebellious part that will turn off white voters.

    He wanted the support of William Ayers, but didn’t want to be labelled friend of a unrepentent terrorist.

    He wanted the community support from the Trinity Chruch but didn’t want to accept the ant-Jewish, anti-white, anti-American bigotry of the church.

    He wanted the money and help buying his mansion he got from Tony Rezko but doesn’t want to be saddled with being friends with a convict.

    He wanted people to know he was multi-cultural, being being taught in a Muslim school and learning the Koran as a child, but doesn’t want to be saddled with his Muslim background now that people have negative feelings towards Muslim radicals.

    Basically, he’s just your run of the mill, Chicago pol pulling the oldest con in the book.

  11. Glazius says:

    Baby’s Daddy is just as much slang as Baby Momma.
    Michelle simply used the plural because they have two children.

    That’s as may be, but “baby momma” means a single, usually abandoned, mom. Which is counterfactual, so running it as a scroll on the bottom of the screen is either deceptive or ignorant.

  12. Bad says:

    Patton Says: The basic problem Obama has…

    Is that he’s a Democrat. Would it really matter which one?

    Every politician, every person, has things and associations that people will criticize them for, if they have a reason. And every politician and their defenders will push back: reject the implications, fight the attacks, argue the point. There’s nothing particularly different at all about Obama in this respect than any other politician. You think that [-Republican X that you like-] doesn’t have disreputable friends and allies that he’s tried to distance himself from? People that were convicted of crimes? Bombastic bigots?

    But for you, you’ve bought into this particular narrative: that Obama wants everything both ways, that he’s precious and too full of himself to face criticism. It’s a story on which you can focus your scorn: any element that fits into it you believe wholeheartedly the worst of, any element that contradicts it seems trivial and unimportant. Every event and controversy throughout this election: you now have a simple lens through which to view it, some emotional buttons to tap through.

    Honestly, it’s sort of life watching an overly excited Star Wars fan trying to read too deeply into the movie: you get so wrapped up in the fiction and pageantry of it all, that you lose sight of the fact that it is, mostly, just a narrative.

    I’m not trying to pretend that this is a Republican or Democrat thing. It’s just that, I’ve worked in politics, and when it was my job, creating people like yourself: making people like yourself buy into a story that we could then develop over time, was a big part of what I did.

    That was the whole point of good messaging: building these iconic stories so that every single event could be framed in light of them: so that we had a handy level to pull at a moment’s notice. And it’s very hard for me to have worked in that world, and then come out of it, see people like yourself that are invested so heavily in what PR firms spend their time creating, and take your judgments of people’s character seriously. Because I know how these reputations and narratives are built: built out of very little of unique or exceptional substance.

    Why do you think that George Bush, who is hardly an ignoramus, has a reputation for being stupid? He isn’t any stupider (or smarter) than the vast majority of politicians and people. But Democrats identified a bundle of elements they could use to weave a story around, and the rest is history. Lots and lots of Democrats are totally, 100% invested in that story. Even if they won’t admit it outright: the sort of fringes of it are around nevertheless.

    That’s good political messaging. And you sir, are excellent product.

  13. Patton says:

    My probelm with Obama, and I voted for Hillary in the primary by the way, is that he doesn’t explain the inconsitencies he simply says he doesn’t need to explain, that that is the ‘old politics’ or whatever you want to call it. He certainly, daily wants to tie McCain to Bush and he wants to tie Hillary to Bush for the Iraq war, but he doesn’t want anyone to tie him to anyone else.

    Take William Ayers, has he ever explained that relationship? Can you imagine if
    McCain had a ten year relationship with Sirhan Sirhan, or James Earl Jones and when questioned stated that just because he’s friends with him it should be no reflection on his own character? Afterall, Sirhan Sirhan hasn’t killed anyone in 40 years!

    It would be no different then a politician in 2031 hanging out with Osama Bin Laden and claiming, gee, he was only 8 back during Sept 11th and that whole WTC thing.

    My point is that he is a politician and a con through and through, but he trying to run as if he’s not, as if he’s above all that.

  14. Bad says:

    He certainly, daily wants to tie McCain to Bush and he wants to tie Hillary to Bush for the Iraq war, but he doesn’t want anyone to tie him to anyone else.

    Every politician, heck, every person, is critical of others, and defensive of themselves. You can buy their reasons or not why their own criticisms are warranted and why criticisms of themselves are not, but why do you think that Obama is so characteristic of the general stance?

    I’ve never seen much but hype on the Ayers issue. Lots of chest-beating high dudgeon, but little in the way of substance. I have no love for Ayers and what his group did (though funnily enough, people don’t seem to know much about what they did, or that the people they killed were their own members in a bomb-making accident), but meeting with him a couple of times because they ran in the same political scenes and being nice is not an endorsement of any of his views or actions.

    Trying to compare that to Iraq war connections, where the issue is actual front and center political support and policy decisions, is just embarrassing.

    My point is that he is a politician and a con through and through, but he trying to run as if he’s not, as if he’s above all that.

    With all due respect, I think most people’s cynicism about politicians is simply ignorant: based on laziness and lack of appreciation of the business, the issues, and the reality of trying to juggle the needs and demands of hordes of constituents, allies, enemies, and so on. Politicians, and Obama is certainly one by all means, are not any better than you or I, but they aren’t generally any worse either. The issue to me is what and how they can get things done.

    Were you to run for office, everyone would be saying the exact same sorts of things about you, and reading deep dangerous things into any bit of your life that doesn’t sound good in a two second soundbyte. I think you’d be very surprised, as virtually every new candidate I’ve met has been.

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