You go, First Lady! I thought.
So this morning, when I read Dana Milbank's "Washington Sketch," I scratched my head. He called it Michelle Obama's garden-variety agenda, and he seemed to me to be taking the First Lady to task for futzing around and not jumping into more controversial topics.
Here's an excerpt:
Also hard to imagine is that this is the same Michelle Obama so many feared when her husband ran for the presidency in 2008. Then, many predicted that she would be an angry and divisive presence in the White House, based largely on unfounded racial accusations on the Internet and her poorly worded boast during the primaries that "for the first time in my adult life, I'm really proud of my country."
Compared with those expectations of a fiery first lady, Obama, beginning her second spring in the White House, has turned out to be Michelle Milquetoast.. . .She has shied from controversy, made relatively few public appearances, and stuck to an unobjectionable agenda of nutrition, exercise and good parenting. It is a domestic agenda -- extremely domestic. . . . Obama has been almost demure in her pronouncements.. . .
Avoiding controversy helps Obama keep her sky-high public standing. An Associated Press poll this month found her favorability rating at 71 percent -- substantially better than those of her husband and her two predecessors as first lady. But her low profile also means that she's been underutilized as an advocate of the president's agenda.
Wednesday, with two public events on her schedule, was a relatively big day for Obama. The issues were laudable -- workplace flexibility for parents and healthy eating for children -- but offered no possibility that the first lady would make news.
Mr. Milbank, a couple of things I'd like to take issue with. . . .
- In your column you seem to be finding fault with an agenda comprised of "nutrition, exercise and good parenting." And, with respect, I'd like to ask you if you've poked your head inside a public school recently and seen the physical shape a lot (not all, by any means) of the next generation of Americans is in? Don't they need someone to tell them to quit eating junk food and get moving.
- As for making an issue out of "good parenting," Mrs. Obama can either travel around making speeches about it or do it. From a great distance away from the private life of the First Family, it seems to me Mrs. Obama leads in that department by example.
- Doesn't your finding fault with her for not speaking out on more controversial topics that would make the news, speak more to our American addiction to controversy than to Mrs. Obama's good use of her time?
- And finally, we didn't elect her President, we elected her husband. Could it not be that, in these (hopefully) liberated days, rather than appearing in public as a kind of husband stand-in and political agenda cheerleader, Mrs. Obama wants to carry on as much the same person she was before the election. Which, in my opinion, sounds pretty durn healthy.
Anyone else want to chime in?