So, upon what mission of mercy was our first lady shackled while Barack poured out his troubles to Oprah’s ample ear? Poor Michelle. She was in Marbella; that’s in Spain. Michelle and her entourage feasted on the delights only affordable to ultra-rich European oligarchs, while simultaneously keeping a promise to spend time with a dear friend who had lost her father this past year. Sigh. All during her days of luxurious beaching and sightseeing, Michelle wore sackcloth and ashes to publicly demonstrate her self-sacrificial act.

Though we selfish-ingrate taxpayers might have preferred her to beef up one of our own flailing local economies with an American “royal” visit, Michelle thought honoring her friend’s request to visit Spain would demonstrate far more meaningful empathy. And really now, could Michelle possibly have considered it more good-motherly to show her daughter a bit of our tacky little country when the crime-besotted, drug-drenched, gangster-ridden Marbella beckoned so enticingly educational a mere ocean and thousands of miles away? It only cost a few hundred thousand dollars of peasants’ wages, after all.

Oh dear, I know what you’re thinking, you dastardly, greedy small-business owners out there in America’s heartland. The lodging for all those people. Not just the first lady and her entourage, but all those security people who must accompany her everywhere she goes. Ca-ching. Ca-ching. All that food that could have been served by job-hungry American workers, bought from struggling American farmers, cooked by begging American chefs, charged by floundering American restaurants. Yes, yes, I understand your bewilderment at Michelle’s seemingly insensitive refusal to give you the same empathy she demands. I do. I really do understand. But this is Michelle’s moment to receive our empathy and you should be content knowing how much more blessed you are in the giver’s spot, just this once.

Anyway, Michelle’s entire Marie Antoinette episode in Spain ought to send us icky working-hard-at-it Americans the loud-and-clear message that the first lady is still not thoroughly proud of her country. We gave her husband the presidency. We’ve surely bought enough of Barack’s books now to have paid off those burdensome college loans. We’ve ogled and ooh-ed and ah-ed over everything from her biceps to his hoops-shooting prowess. We’ve plastered their pictures on everything solid in the entire country. But we’re still not there yet. And every single selfish-ingrate, taxpaying American citizen had better start revving up that first-couple empathy and pour it on so that maybe — if we’re really, really lucky — we can finally earn Michelle Obama’s pride in America.

Let’s see now. What other surgical empathy might we commoners summon for our downtrodden first couple?

Well, there’s the president’s golf game. Knowing golfers as I do, I doubt seriously whether Barack is ever truly satisfied with his score, but he’s certainly getting plenty of oh-so-grueling practice time. And, of course, back in April of ’09, Barack met with Tiger in the Oval, sharing golf tidbits no doubt. Then, Barack and Tiger took time out from their back-breaking party schedules to do a photoshoot for Golf Digest. The glossy-mag cover heralded the twosome’s friendship with the title: “Ten Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger.”

That paragraph came off a bit snarky, I suppose. You’re wondering, dear reader, where’s my empathy? Be patient, please, I’m getting there. It was just downright horrible how the timing of that Golf Digest hit the newsstands. There, our poor, pitiful president was hunched down over a challenging putting green with Tiger’s formidable manhood dwarfing Barack in the shot, while at the very same time, our president’s mouthpieces were selling the line that Barack was hard at thoughtful dithering over his Afghanistan troop surge, and as if that weren’t enough for White House discomfort, this cover also hit while Tiger’s adulterous affairs — too numerous to count — were breaking wide open.

Even the most beleaguered citizen just had to feel the president’s pain that awful week.

Well, dear readers, my heart is so plum full of chest-bursting empathy for our first couple now that I could go on forever with this exercise.

However, I must bid empathy adieu. I’m headed to my voting booth to cast my run-off primary choice now. And the very last place on earth a self-respecting American ought to be indulging gratuitous empathy is the voting booth.

Just wondering, though, does Big Pharma make a pill that squelches one’s gag reflex and wakes one only on election days? If so, I would gladly invest the whole farm, plough and all, in such a wonder drug right about now.