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The Muzzling of Michelle

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Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: The fiery, opinionated Michelle Obama of the primary season has been replaced with a new, kinder, gentler version and it's working wonders. But there's something a little sad in the muzzling of Michelle.

Michelle Obama with daughters

Just a few months ago, Michelle was written off as a liability, with Democrats wringing their hands and Republicans chomping at the bit. Remember her much derided comment, "for the first time in my adult life, I'm proud of my country" and her "terrorist fist jab" on national television?

The days of an off-the-reservation Michelle are gone. Poised to be the first black First Lady, Michelle has come a long way in convincing voters, especially women voters, that she's one of them, according to a story in the New York Times. She spends most of her time off the campaign trail and at home with her daughters. When she does hit the campaign trail, she mainly speaks to women and military families. The Obama campaign dispatches her to shows like "The View" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" where she talks about being a mom, a wife and where she shops.

Michelle's success has a downside. For a country that nearly nominated a woman for president, Americans are still uncomfortable with a tough, professional First Lady. Michelle is a Harvard-educated lawyer who held down a $212,000 a year job before this campaign began. Now the Obama camp insists she won't have an office in the West Wing and will spend most of her time raising the girls. It's wonderful that she's focusing on her daughters, but it's sad that the First Lady Americans feel most comfortable with is the one with the fewest opinions. Granted, Americans aren't voting for Michelle and who can forget the wrath Hillary Clinton evoked when she took on healthcare after Bill Clinton was elected? But it says a lot that Americans chafed at the idea of a working mom with strong opinions and ideas that extend beyond the domestic sphere. America might finally be ready for a black president, but it's still not ready for a fiery First Lady.

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85 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sharon October 29, 2008, 8:40 AM

Personally, I understand the strength it even takes to step up and be outspoken for your spouse, let alone the spouse that’s running for any public office. I believe when Michelle is our First Lady she will always do just that, and still be the mother her daughters need her to be. If there is a cause that she truly feels needs to be addressed that requires emphasis from someone with even a hint of influence as herself, I believe she’d consult her family and with their approval, go for it regardless of us opinionated Americans.

Concerned Citizen October 29, 2008, 9:47 AM

Laura Bush fought her causes without having a big mouth, why can’t Michelle Obama do the same?
Why is it so important that she get the praise for being a strong woman when Hilary was chastised for it? Is it because she’s black?
I, personally don’t care what color she is…just stop the hypocrisy.

Amy October 29, 2008, 10:57 AM

What a bunch of crap - the role of the First Lady has never been in the West Wing, so why should it be any different now? We’re not electing a First Lady, we’re electing a president. The ticket only has two names on it, only one of which is Obama.

Campaigns ALWAYS do this to people - look at the muzzling of Palin and McCain for some other recent examples.

Donna Moody October 29, 2008, 11:09 AM

What I like about the idea of Michelle in the White House is that she will do what she feels is right for her family and her country. I love that she has a mind of her own just as Hilary Clinton did! More power to strong women!

The world as it is! October 29, 2008, 11:11 AM

Conerned citizen: Yes she get’s praise, not because she is black, but because she worked 3x as hard as her white counterpart to reach the same goals. Her strength to keep going when there was/is so many facets that stood on her way just because she is black, and yet she continued… I like Hillary and any other powerful woman who can hold her own in a male dominated world, but I smile a little longer when I read and research how Mrs. Obama became who she is now! Nothing was handed to her, she had to work harder then most because she is black!

Tere October 29, 2008, 11:38 AM

Why work so hard to give it up? I understand as the wife of a presidential nominee she had to put her career on hold…Remember people-he has not been voted in…..This is a step back-educated woman who “worked 3 times as hard” as someone else put it..What a waste of time and money…Just like what Obama is doing tonight…He is ahead…by what the polls indicate..Do something good with it-put your money where your mouth is donate it to charity-to a worthy cause…To help the hundres of thousands of Americans who are living paycheck to paycheck, to those living out of their cars…To those that did not have milk for their children’s cereal this morning

lauren h October 29, 2008, 12:18 PM

its pretty astonishing that personal dignity has gone out the window with MO…is she strong or is she not? if you are who you are then you can stay there comfortably and do whatever you need to…this “quiet” MO will only last a bit and once again she will open her big mouth randomly and look the unpolished classless woman she obviously is.she had the opportunity to be a true role model….all she looks is false now

Anonymous October 29, 2008, 12:21 PM

You’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. America’s not ready for a well educated woman like Michelle: but you’re ready for an uneducated, lying, gun carrying, AIP, racist woman who is an unfit mother to say the least to be vice president of the United States of America. Get real. We all know what the real reason is. How about Michelle Obama for Vice President in 2016 and Hilary Clinton as president. Does America have a problem with that?

U of Chicago October 29, 2008, 12:36 PM

The problem is that Michelle got a massive boost at the U of C when her husband was crowned Senator.
The problem is that Michelle wrote a racist diatribe for her college thesis.
The problem is that Michelle is friends with Elijah Muhammed’s widow. (There is photographic evidence of this.)
The same people that tout Michelle for being a strong woman denigrate Sarah Palin for the same thing. And Sarah Palin isn’t profiting from her husband’s career and isn’t associated with hatemongering.

Annette October 29, 2008, 12:36 PM

Michelle Obama is a poised, intelligent, educated young black woman. It’s too bad that people get frightened and fearful when people express their opinions and doing it with style. Isn’t that what this country is about?!?

Anonymous October 29, 2008, 12:42 PM

When will some people get over the fact and stop being jealous of the educated black woman. Some people were given everything they have on a silver plater, never worked for anything and are in positions of power; they destroy everything they touch. They can’t keep their panties up long enough to be true to anyone man; now you have the nerve to be jealous of Michelle obama because she is everything that you’re not. You haters can’t take anything away from her with your jealous words because what God joined together; no man or white woman will destroy. So, why don’t you keep on chasing the football, basketball, baseball, tennis players; I’m sure they’ll give you a easy life of leasure with your dumb self; but, remember you get what you get and what you desire in the end. So lay off Michelle Obama because she is loved and respected by those that matter.

lauren h October 29, 2008, 12:50 PM

so someone here thinks holding down a $212,000 job is sufficiant to run for vp? thats so pathetic…we still do not know who these people are….if they want all the questioning to go away they should ANSWER questions….at least if you can have an informed decision if the facts are OFFERED…everything questioned with the obamas is like pulling teeth to get an inkling of an answer….oh and is there anything at all you dont know about Gov Palin? MO and BHO arent transparent they are players…i for one am not frightened or fearful of educated men or women but i question them saying one thing and then not answering the most fundamental things a person needs to KNOW to trust them

Prada October 29, 2008, 1:33 PM

Why are we so divisive in this country? These types of discussions aren’t worth the time. You talk about trust and answering questions. People can say what you want to hear and still aren’t trustworthy. People ask outright dumb questions of the Obamas (which they shouldn’t have to dignify). Yeah Palin puts it all outthere, but what does it really add up to. Fear is born of ignorance. It is just as easy to find out for oneself, that it is to blame the subject for not dignifying foolish, inconsequential questions. Go Obama and hoorah for Michelle!

mo October 29, 2008, 1:33 PM

lauren h..Michelle Obama isn’t running for VP…if you think she is, then you need to watch the news. She is married to the man running for president on the Democratic ticket. Personally, I would rather have a first lady who is intelligent, hard working and not afraid to speak her mind. The alternative is a first lady who has admitted to stealing from a charity to continue her addiction to pain pills and only came clean when under an investigation by the DEA. That’s just my opinion. I also find it interesting that John and Cindy McCain started dating and got engaged while he was still married to his first wife. Again, that’s just my opinion.

John October 29, 2008, 1:36 PM

what a load of crap…she is a loudmouth, obnoxious, pushy woman who, yes, has been silenced FOR NOW. Once the election is over, she will open her fat yap again. She is NOT First Lady material in any way, shape or form.

lauren h October 29, 2008, 1:53 PM

MO? duh whatch the news?…hey read the thread!??? i was commenting on a previous post from anonymous at 12 something….as for the things you mention about the mccains blah blah….these are human flaws i can live with….but when someone speaks like she does of this country and all their paperwork is hidden and their agenda is hidden….forget it MO…i have the info i need…you obviously scan what you read for your love interests name…study up mo….take your own advice

pinkcathy October 29, 2008, 2:03 PM

I can’t stand the obama woman and hope her husband doesn’t win because she is a big mouth and a racist

Anonymous October 29, 2008, 2:03 PM

I found this statement stupid, but interesting! “And Sarah Palin isn’t profiting from her husband’s career and isn’t associated with hatemongering.”

Really? I call your husband being part of a group of successionists hateful, if nothing else!

As for Michelle, she is a strong woman, which scares some people. She is also very smart. Sadly we can’t say the same about Sarah Palin.

pinkcathy October 29, 2008, 2:05 PM

Sarah Palin has 5 children and runs a large state quite well, what has the obama woman done besides run her fat ugly mouth?

nobama October 29, 2008, 2:26 PM

Michelle Obama is a racist. Check out her college thesis.

What is so special about Michelle Obama? That she went to Harvard Law school and became a lawyer. So what!!

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