Michelle Obama has been under attack for some time for a comment she made: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” She’s since explained that what she meant was her country’s politics, and that it is, of course, comparative hyperbole, not really a literal absolute. Seems reasonable enough to me to be a non-issue.
But conservatives, seeing blood, pounced. They attacked her patriotism. They worked this comment into their overall narrative of the Obama’s being elite, self-centered ‘too-fancy and enamored of themselves’ folks. It was an easy sell for them.
Myself? I’m embarrassed for anyone that styles themselves an honest, straight shooter that bought into this faux-controversy: who see cable talking-head narratives as reality instead of theater. I’m disgusted at the quiet glee that otherwise interesting and thoughtful conservative bloggers take in peppering their posts with the quote, and the pride they take in seeing media accounts of ordinary citizens hating on the Obamas for it. I have little patience for the two-faced pretense of supposedly analyzing it with the quiet motive of simply repeating it over and over.
No less than the always charming Laura Bush has come out defending Mrs. Obama and her defense is dead on.
“I think she probably meant I’m ‘more proud,’ you know, is what she really meant,” Bush told ABC News. “You have to be very careful in what you say. I mean, I know that, and that’s one of the things you learn and that’s one of the really difficult parts both of running for president and for being the spouse of the president, and that is, everything you say is looked at and in many cases misconstrued.”
And now, the ridiculousness of it all has come to a head, because MSNBC has caught Presidential candidate John McCain saying something quite similar, repeatedly, with no outcry from anyone. Quoth John McCain: “I really didn’t love America until I was deprived of her company…”
Ooooo, didn’t appreciate America until locked in a cage and tortured? What a selfish twit, right?
No. Wrong. Sigh.
In real life, people say things all the time that are silly, overwrought. They get worked up about something, and then, in a moment of clarity, come down off it. And because in real life they have to deal with other human beings face to face, day in and day out, they often realize how foolish they were being, and they apologize for them. Not because of equally phony formulaic political demands for public apologies. Because they actually, though simple self-awareness, come to feel foolish about their behavior.
Just once, I’d like to see campaign cable spin-miesters or their bloggy enablers suddenly look sheepish and self-aware, just like ordinary humans do all the time. Say “wait a minute, what the heck am I going on about?”
The fact that virtually no one ever does that, when they do it all the time in real life, is as sure a sign as any that political blogging is still fairly far removed from both humanity and reality. People play against partisan type from time to time, sure. They have their opinions. But somehow they virtually never get upset about something and then later, after whipping up a frenzy, reconsider. I’m not claiming that I’m innocent of it either. I just wish we could all commiserate a little more about the collective problem.
Even if you’re inclined to defend your outrage at Mrs. Obama, deny that this one, super important and telling quote, is part of that unreality game… can you at least admit to the general vice, and that you may well indulge in it?