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Criticizing Michelle Obama: Fair or Foul?

It's too late in the game for Barack Obama to warn us to lay off his wife.

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June 1, 2008 - 10:25 am

I must confess I got a chuckle out of Barack Obama’s warning us all to lay off his wife. Sorry, pal, but it’s too late in the game for that. If you didn’t want her to be a legitimate target, you should have told her to stay home with the kids.

The days when the little woman remained at home while the menfolk went off to run for president ended a long time ago, back in the days of Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower. Ever since, we voters have been encouraged to take an interest in the wives, trying to determine whether we wanted them to represent America as the First Lady. Frankly, I’ve always suspected that Teresa Heinz-Kerry had more to do with costing her hubby the election than Kathleen Harris, hanging chads and the Supreme Court, put together — for which, I, for one, will be forever grateful.

Many years ago, another prominent Democrat came to the defense of a family member. Some Republicans had accused FDR of wasting millions of tax dollars by sending a U.S. destroyer to the Aleutian Islands to retrieve his little Scotch terrier, Fala. But at least Roosevelt had the good grace to say that he, his wife and his children, all expected to come under attack from his political opponents, but that his dog, being a thrifty Scot, would have been the first to object if the accusation had been true.

I agree that there are times when the honorable thing is to keep women out of harm’s way. That’s the way the Mafia conducts its business. You don’t go after the other guy’s wife, mother and children, because you don’t want his goombahs coming after yours. But the difference is that the dons don’t arm their women with Uzis and tell them to go out and earn their keep. Of course nobody in his right mind ever suggested that politicians were as honor-bound as Mafiosos.

Politicians tend to turn campaigns into family endeavors. Hillary sends Chelsea out on the hustings, but being the candidate’s daughter, she’s supposed to be spared not only critical comment, but even hard questions.

Barack sends Michelle out to make speeches and give interviews, but when her words suggest a certain note of bitterness, racism and disaffection for America, Mr. Obama tells us we’re not supposed to take her to task.

Well, Senator, if I recall correctly, you also think your spiritual advisor and your good friends, a corrupt lobbyist and an unrepentant terrorist, should be left out of the equation. So, on exactly what basis would you have us consider your qualifications to be our president? I’m sure you wouldn’t think it cricket if we judged you by your books, filled, as they are, with smoldering hostility towards white people and the capitalist system. Or perhaps you’d have us consider your record as the great conciliator, the man who’ll unite us all, when you have the most partisan, most socialistic, voting record in the U.S. Senate. Or perhaps you’d prefer to be judged on the basis of your vast experience in foreign affairs? No, I didn’t think so.

The fact is, these political spouses serve a very real, very positive, purpose. Not only do Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton serve as lightning rods for their respective spouses, taking hits that would otherwise be directed at the candidates, but they serve to remind the rest of us that maybe our own husbands and wives aren’t so bad, after all.

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