Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama’s Convention Speech

Author Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network .

Here are excerpts from her assessment of Michelle Obama’s speech last evening and “the family moments” following it, after which I offer comments below the star line.

Chesler begins - - -

In her speech before the DNC, Michelle Obama came across as a low-key and consummately likeable family woman: a warm, (but oh-so-cool) sister, daughter, wife, and mother. Her role was to normalize her exotic or at least unusual husband.

How American can he be with an absent Kenyan Muslim father, an absent Indonesian Muslim stepfather, a name like Barack Hussein Obama, a childhood which consisted of growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia, and of being brought up by his white grandparents?

Michelle Obama also had to dispel the fears about her college thesis as a black separatist–and she certainly tried to do so.

Thus, instead of noting that America has been “criminal” in its treatment of African-Americans, (and suggesting that the most admirable African-Americans are “separationists,” not integrationists), she uncritically stated that she loves America and credits it with her humble and church-going family’s breathtaking rise.

Barack Obama was presented as a loving, hands-on father. The Obamas are no different than the Cleavers or the Huxtables. Obama himself appeared on video from Kansas City and related as a family man to his wife and young daughters.

This relaxed, informal “cuteness” seemed to work for the delegates who cheered, wiped away tears, “woo-hooed,” looked dreamy, and applauded Mrs. Obama over and over again.

But now for some reality.

We are at war and under seige. With our every purchase of oil, we are funding the war against ourselves. Jihadists, both terrorists and legal and civil rights advocates, mean to establish Islamist beachheads in all our Judao-Christian countries and, step by step, to take them over and force us all to live under Sharia law.

Mrs. Obama is a smart woman. I would have liked to hear her say something about this. Showing us and telling us that she cherishes her private family life, however wonderful that may be, does not rise to the level of a Churchillian speech in which her maternal concerns are for us all, not only for her children.

Yes, I know, that kind of speech may be reserved for her husband who is the presumptive candidate. But for a lawyer with an Ivy League education, I expected much more–no, I actually expected a lot more. She did not say a word about what America must do to protect herself from those who intend to destroy us. . . .

Chesler’s entire assessment's here. I encourage you to read it.



Certainly part of Michelle Obama’s role was to, as Chesler puts it, “normalize” Barack Obama. Another important part of it was also to “normalize” herself.

Let’s talk a bit about the Obamas and “normalization.”

I keep hearing from Dems and MSM about this need to “normalize” the Senator because of his “exotic” background. They mean his having a Kenyan father, living some years in Indonesia , etc.

Well, message to Dems and MSM: You can spare the “normalization” efforts about those sorts of things.

They don’t bother me or most Amerians. In fact, there’s a lot in Barack Obama’s “exotic” background and what he’s done with his life that we find very attractive.

Where the “normalization” work needs to be done has to do with Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, Obama's feelings about people he calls bitter and derides for what he says is their clinging to “guns and religion.

And, oh yes, I’d like to hear him define what he thinks “a typical white person” is besides “my grandmother,” whom he compared to the raving racist Wright.

It’s about those matter the “normalization” needs to happen.

For “normalization” the Dems and MSM should read “truthful answers.”

I feel similarly about the need to “normalize” Michelle Obama.

I really don’t care much that she wrote a senior thesis at Princeton praising black separatists.

She was in her early twenties. If she says that’s all from her youthful past, well, it is.

But less than a year ago she was still attending Wright’s church and with her husband taking her children there for religious instruction.

I care a lot about that and want answers as to why she did that.

And I hope she doesn’t try to use the “I slept through all those sermons” excuse.

Her husbands already appropriated it and it isn’t going down with sensible people.

And then there’s “downright mean” America.

She needs to explain what she meant.

Saying “I love America” only avoids what I took to be her genuinely heartfelt description of America as “downright mean.”

I’ll say more about Michelle Obama’s speech and Phyliss Chesler’s assessment in a future post.

What did you think?


Anonymous said...

John: I fear those questions will never be asked and will never be answered.

Anonymous said...

There are, I'm sure, enumerable answers to the questions you'd like answered. As in any compaign effort, candidates adjust their answers to suit their audience.

What I do know is that we all want an ideal candidate in office. What we have are Obama and McCain as options.

I'd much rather have a champion of hope and change this time around, than another member of the 'Good Ol' Boys' Club.

You call it normalization, I call it realization. There is by far much more "normal" about Barack Obama than there is about John McCain. What I think we all need to accept is that the face of America is changing and the historical face that we cleave to attach to America has in all actuality already changed.

So, back to the answers to your questions, I don't know how one might answer them. Perhaps, you want to reconsider what the demographic make-up is of both constituent bases and start wondering which will be more "normal" twenty years from now.

JWM said...

To Anon @ 1:09,

There's reasonableness in what you say.

On the other hand, if enough of us keep asking the questions, that will have an effect regardless of whether the Obamas answer them forthrightly and fully.

The questions are in themselves informative just as are questions such as these:

Why did you have that kind of relationship with someone who didn't and doesn't regret attempting to bomb abortion clinics?


Why did you have that kind of relationship with someone who didn't and doesn't regret attempting to bomb the Pentagon?

To M.J.,

Please reread my post.

I did not say what you attribute to me.

Also, the questions are extremely important.

Can you understand why millions of Americans are bothered by the Obamas' failure to answer them?

Thank you both for commenting.


Anonymous said...

I think Phyllis "Lack of Intellectual Rigor" Chesler (born 1940)is a weak source for an opinion on anything. I think she has decided her identity group are the losers in a very big victims' contest. She seems to hate people because of their religion or the color of their skin.

It is ironic that someone with the serious mental baggage she displays would be a professor of psychology. She sounds nutty. I hate to generalize, but what do you expect when the woman is also a professor of women's studies. I doubt she would be safe around house plants, never mind students.

From Wikipedia on her new book:
[I took the N-word spelling out of her quote. She is really a piece of work. She hates Obama - surprise surprise.]
"Chesler has recently become known for her campaign against what she considers to be a "new anti-Semitism". She has written about this concept in her book The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (2003).

A 2003 review in Publishers Weekly describes Chesler's book as a "passionate, highly personal jeremiad" that argues "in our contemporary world anti-Zionism is nearly inseparable from anti-Semitism". The reviewer adds that the book "too often undercuts itself when its author intends to be provocative", citing lines such as "African-Americans (not Jews) are the Jews in America but Jews are the world's n******". The piece concludes that "Chesler's tone and lack of intellectual rigor will not help her ideas to be heard by those who do not already agree with her".[7]"

TruthHurts001 said...

Your comments are completely unrelated to the substance of the post at hand. "Hope and Change" is nothing new, those are meaningless words used by virtually every politician to appeal to the shallow. Like most folks, I'm concerned with honesty, integrity, character, and courage.
I would never take my children to a church where the reverend shouts "God Damn America". In fact, I don't know anyone who would. Would you?
Likewise, unless Barack Obama can offer a reasonable explanation for why he took his children to that hatefest, he will never get my vote. And there are millions of voters who feel the same way.