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As I was thinking about the NON-controversy with Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, I thought about her role in this campaign, and how integral she has been for the Obama campaign.

First and foremost, Michelle Obama humanizes her husband. Her teasing and chiding in the beginning was a signal that Barack Obama is a very gifted man, but he's not the Second Coming, so don't see him that way, because he can't do anything but disappoint you. But, if you see him as a man with gifts, talent, service and inspiration, then he's your man, and stick with him.

While much has been written about Barack Obama's 'appeal' to the White community, because of his non-traditional background (growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia), you can't run a campaign across racial, ethnic and religious lines, if you don't have a narrative that those White audiences can relate to.

And, that's where Michelle Obama comes in, and that has been her major task:

To show the common universality of the ' American Experience', and point out that we're not all so different. Using herself as an example, not only within the context of how SHE, was skeptical about Barack Obama in the beginning, not knowing what to make of this 'Skinny Black Guy with a funny name who grew up in Hawaii', thus relating herself to the general audience - both BLACK and WHITE - but, also by bringing up her OWN background.

Another important part of the challenge of the Obama campaign, in its quest to reach out to the General American populace, is that they have had to try and reshape the very IMAGE of the BLACK FAMILY.

From the Black Point of View, when Michelle Obama tells the story of her family and talks about her father, as I have written before, I see the Black men that I grew up with in my life. The Black men who never get stories written about them in the papers, and certainly never make the news. And, she seems to have been talking about the Black community in which I was raised. As a community, we've not had someone talk about the Black Family in the way that Michelle Obama is doing. We've not had those hard working, Black men and women, especially of that generation, acknowledged in what they did, and what they demanded of their ' striving' children. For those in the middle class, we all know Michelle Robinson's family, because they were our neighbors. A generation ago, this was the family of the working class.

As Mrs. Obama has said herself, she finds nothing extraordinary in how she grew up; people like her and her family have ALWAYS been there - they've just been ignored by the MSM. And, because the Obamas are running, they can't ignore that story anymore, because in order to tell the story of the Obamas, you have to tell Michelle Robinson Obama's story, and thus the story of an entirely ignored swath of the Black community.

To the White community hearing this rarely told story, they can relate to it from their end; how many of them had fathers who weren't professionals, but worked to put food on the table through adversity, and had mothers who stayed at home, keeping the house together and the children in line, stressing education and hard work as the keys to achievement in society. To be able to relate to Michelle Obama's upbringing is a way to reach over that divide and show that we have fundamental values in common in this country, and if we can work through those, we can make this country a better place.

It's a daunting task for the Obamas - to try and counter the massive denigration of the Black Family that the MSM has done, but they have to do it, in order to be competitive. And, it's just another example of what Barack Obama has to do as the BLACK Candidate in this race that just doesn't apply to the other candidates.

Cross-posted on :Jack and Jill Politics, Mirror On America, MyDD

Related Articles:

Michelle Obama - the latest Racial Rorschach Test

Michelle Obama Making A Case For First Lady

My Women for Obama Experience

Originally posted to rikyrah on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:00 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  She's a huge asset to the camaign (4+ / 0-)

    and not just in relating to white audiences.

    I saw her in Harlem at a "Women for Obama" event a couple of months ago, before I was on the Obama bandwagon. Most of the audience that day was African American and female, though there were white women (like myself) and a few men. She was so amazing, her words and passion brought tears to my eyes. The audience seemed as enthralled as I was. I had the sense that her remarks were aimed more at them than at me (though they obviously reached me too!)

    After hearing her, I realized that I really needed to see and hear Barack in person. Fortunately, I was able to do that twice in the past few weeks. Needless to say, I'm now a committed Obama supporter.

  •  I love hearing Michelle Obama speak (7+ / 0-)

    She is obviously so extraordinarily intelligent, and strong, and a devoted wife and mother as well as a professional woman. She also radiates confidence and compassion.

    And you are right, the Obama family shines a light on the fact that strong Black families are strong American families. For too long, sterotypes have persisted that Black families were somehow different that White families, and the comparison has not been a positive one.

    The Obama family is beautiful, and in fact a great role model for all American families. I sure hope to see Sasha and Malia playing with their new puppy on the White House lawn come 2009. What a treat that would be, and what a great image for all American families.

  •  Michelle is inspirational and approachable (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    casperr, Jennifer Clare, Sagittarius

    She has a cool confidence and professional demeanor, but I understand on the campaign trail that she is the resident hugger. When a campaign stop attendee shares a story of woe, she is right there with empathy and support.

    Bright, assertive, accomplished and compassionate - she will make an exceptional first lady.

    Unconventional wisdom. Obama '08.

    by speck tater on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:22:46 PM PDT

  •  Smart beautiful and charismatic and ...... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vivacia, Positronicus

    She has "balls".

    She has guts, I actually prefer he to the always cautious Obama.
    She speaks from her heart.

    I think she can be a huge asset to Pres Obama, the Dem party, the US image abroad, African Americans and other minorities.

    I initially did not personally like her when she had one foot at work and the other half heartedly in the campaign.

    She was also very slow to accept that Obama is "ours" too. We have a stake in his success and progress as a cadidate and need access to him. I found and still do Mrs Edwards to be very warm, the kind who will invite you into her house on a cold rainy day for some soup.

    Now I like Mrs Obama lot

  •  While it isn't a good reason to decide a (4+ / 0-)

    presidential vote I suppose, it would really be something to see her in the white house.

    What's so hard about Peace, Love, and Truth and Progress?

    by melvin on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:23:21 PM PDT

  •  I like what her brother had to say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jennifer Clare

    Michelle Obama's brother sent to check Barack out on the court.  New Hampshire 8/14/07 2min

    God speaks to all of us, all of the time. We do an incredibly horrible job of listening.

    by Todd Smyth on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:31:31 PM PDT

  •  Comments on the comments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skyesNYC, Jennifer Clare, Sagittarius

    but First off - I agree that Michelle is doing nothing less than what everyone would be demanding her to do if she wheren't doing it: trying to present a Role that young black women can look up to as a means of improving their own lives and prospects - and yet I believe that she is going beyond this by also speaking with the community and not merely at the community.

    As for other comments which I want to comment on: Obama over cautious?  Taking a stand against Iraq, while campaigning, even though it was not the popular stand? Telling the country that we need to have a dialog with our enemies even though the conventional wisdom would have us shun those leaders? Admitting that his past has been more than a little colorful in regards to some of his, now disavowed, activites?  Campaigning against Lieberman? He has bucked the "convenional wisdom" on every front - and I believe that he has shown more wisdom, in each instance, than the Conventionalists would have you believe.  THIS has shown a consistant trend of not being over-cautious and being correct.

    As for the comment that a person's choice of spouse is not a factor for deciding a person's merit for the White House.. I'm not sure, but I'd like to think that a person would choose as their life partner someone who they respect and are open with.  Getting to know who the candidate trusts and respects helps us to know the person.

    As for the request for a  Tip-Jar - I agree 100%.  This is a journal that deserves a Tip. Getting to know the spouses of our candidates will give us a better insight into who the candidate will listen to; and knowing the relationship that they share is paramount to knowing the person.  If they are hiding secrets from their partner, how can the country trust them? It's all about trust, and I feel that I can trust Obama and Michelle.

  •  "NON-controversy," eh? (0+ / 0-)

    Oddly I didn't know about it until I heard people at work discussing it. And was frankly, really surprised to hear that she'd say what she said. I didn't actually believe it until I googled it.

    I've been really impressed with the women in the Democratic campaign...including Michelle. Indeed...I'd vote for Elizabeth as POTUS...

    Though I do think that the off-mike thing was a real gaff.

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:37:31 PM PDT

    •  What did you hear her say? nt (0+ / 0-)
      •  The folks at work were discussing... (0+ / 0-)

        the "if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House" portion of the interview.

        And that's all I read about until earlier today.

        It's been a very busy week.

        "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

        by kredwyn on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 03:53:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wasn't a swipe at Clinton (4+ / 0-)

          at least no reasonable person would assert that... and if you had Googled it you would have found the full quote:

          MICHELLE OBAMA: That one of the most important things that we need to know about the next President of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values? Is he somebody that respects family? Is a good and decent person? So our view was that, if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House. So, so we've adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips. That means I get up in the morning, I get the girls ready, I get them off, I go and do trips, I'm home before bedtime. So the girls know that I was gone somewhere, but they don't care. They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do and that's why we're doing this. We're in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.

          ... which not only makes no reference to HRC but repeatedly refers to "he" and not "sher".

          Or you might have found the ridiculous Jennifer Hunter piece in the Chicago Sun-Times that strated the non-controversy:

          At another stop, in Atlantic, Michelle said she travels with her husband in part "to model what it means to have family values," adding "if you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the White House." She didn’t elaborate, but it could be interpreted as a swipe at the Clintons.

          •  The unreasonable people... (0+ / 0-)

            you're talking about are a bunch of liberal doctorate level chemists who don't have a whole lot of time on their hands at the moment and are getting whatever news they're getting via the quick CNN scan.

            I suggest that you go and read the Media Matters article. It talks about the quote and how it was taken out of context by Sylvester over at CNN.

            "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

            by kredwyn on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 04:01:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you are referring to the supposed swipe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jennifer Clare

      at Clinton (which is what the diarist was referring to), it's not what some in the media made it out to be:

    •  What was infuriating about that clip (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      casperr, Sagittarius

      was the fact that show after show edited it carefully to not include the remarks Michelle made after she said that "if you can't get your own house in order, how can you run the White House." This had nothing, zero, zip, zilch, nada, to do with Hillary Clinton. Mike Barnacle played it and cut off her comments so many times last week that I almost smashed my TV.

      Michelle went on to say (I am paraphrasing), that their family and raising their daughters is the number one priority. So while Barack is traveling, Michelle takes days trips in order to get the girls ready in the morning, and then to be there to tuck them into bed at night.

      Michelle's remarks were simply about how the Obama's are balancing family and campaign.  

  •  I do not know what a Tip Jar is (11+ / 0-)

    Please explain its importance at DailyKos.

    Thanks in advance.

  •  Read. Tipped. Recommended. Thanks. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    casperr, brklyngrl

    / Makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands. -- Marvin Gaye /

    by Sagittarius on Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 04:09:43 PM PDT

  •  Ridiculously good diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Most thoughtful thing I've read on DKos in weeks.

  •  I'm worried about Barack O. (0+ / 0-)

    I saw the clip of Michelle introducing him, in which she talked about being tired of fear. She seemed a bit overwrought. Then I saw Barack on the Daily Show, and when he repeated that line about "kicking the tires and looking under the hood", I thought to myself, this guy is physically worn out. The passion and excitement of the first few speeches of the campaign isn't there anymore. He's apparently been told not to vary his basic speech unless the addition is planned. He's not telling the audience he loves them anymore.

    Barack has been keeping up in the money race, but only because of this new formula he has, of basically going on a nonstop concert tour. Meanwhile, Hillary raises about as much stopping by tea parties. And she has established a lead in the polls that has brought her to the threshold of Inevitabillary. Even the attitude on this site has changed because of those polls. Obama could hope to ambush Hillary in early primaries, if it weren't for Edwards, who has concentrated so hard on Iowa that he's bound to stay in until Super Tuesday.

    And after that it will all be over. The whole reconstruction of the primary schedule seems to me to be working against Barack. He seems to need to do something SOON, before the Dems that name Hillary in polls get too used to the idea.

    I don't want to vote for anyone else. I don't dislike Mrs. Clinton, but I don't think she'll turn out to have the "shining luck" her husband had. Iraq might last as the One Big Issue until 2009, but then the economy will be in big trouble.

    Hillary represents "our turn". Barack represents major change. But he hasn't distinguished himself from Hillary forcefully enough as regards laws that force corporations to contribute a fair amount to the reconstruction of the infrastructure and the workforce. Somebody's taxes will have to go up - and in a falling-profit environment, Hillary just will never do it.

    I hope Axelrod will let Barack take a rest, recharge his batteries, and let Obama be Obama, go down swinging if that's how it has to be.

    If I'm wrong about the beauty contest polls, I'm happy. Hillary has only ever run for election twice, and only in one place. I think if Barack could just WIN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE, many groups might take another look. But Edwards, who I certainly respect, stands in the way of there ever being a viable anti-hillary (I'm sure he feels the same way about Barack).

    It's past kicking the tires, Barack. The American people want to step on the gas pedal. At some point you have to say that the minimum possible change in the orientation of the government - Hillary - is NOT a safe choice. We're headed into rougher seas than we realize, world wide and economically. I want Obama NOW, later might be too late.  

  •  Barack was on fire (0+ / 0-)

    at his stops in SC ,fla, and NOLA this weekend..tired? fugitabottit.. there is 140 days til Iowa.. that is an eternity in politics..hell, 30 days in an eternity in politics . just ask howard dean.

    Michelle is the cats pajamas... hard not to love her.

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