Obama’s Specious Chivalry

The Obamas

Barak Obama’s dramatic defense of his wife showed a weakness in character and a specious act of chivalry. In an interview given on ABC’s Good Morning America program, the apparent Democratic nominee for president scolded the Tennessee Republican Party for producing and airing a video that re-played Michelle’s words from a speech she gave in Wisconsin this past February in which she declared, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction.”

Those words started a firestorm and the Tennessee GOP, obligidly has continued to fan the flames by releasing the video last week, just prior to a visit to the state by Michelle Obama. Sen. Obama, finally having enough of it has said, “lay off my wife.” He further noted, “The GOP, should I be the nominee, I think can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record,” Obama said. “I’ve been in public life for 20 years. I expect them to pore through everything that I’ve said, every utterance, every statement. And to paint it in the most undesirable light possible. That’s what they do.” He went on to warn, “but I do want to say this to the GOP. If they think that they’re going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful. Because that I find unacceptable,” he said.

What I find so specious about all this is that the speech Michelle Obama gave in February was not at all unrelated to her husband’s campaign. It was clearly in the context of a political speech. I’m sure Barak wasn’t surprised to find Michelle in Wisconsin that day giving that speech. It’s not like she had nothing else to do that day. Heck, Obama knew exactly what she was doing. He, (being the head of his campaign) has sent his wife Michelle as a lamb among the wolves and now says its “low class” for the Tennessee GOP to take her to task for the “Obama ‘08” campaign-sponsored comments she made in a political speech. Although I agree with the statement Obama made that for Republicans “to try to distort (which they did) or to play snippets of her remarks in ways that are unflattering to her (which they are)…is low class,” I have mixed views on his subsequent comments. He duly noted, and I agree, that it “was detestable” to do these things, and “especially for people who purport to be promoters of family values, who claim that they are protectors of the values and ideals and the decency of the American people.” He would have been fine if he left it there. But he didn’t. He asserted that it was detestable, “to start attacking my wife in a political campaign.” Although I absolutely agree with him on the “attack” point, I would be probably be more sympathetic if not for the fact that these attacks happened as a result of having Michelle give political speeches for his campaign.

I’m just wondering why Obama would put his wife in the arena of political rhetoric, ad homenum comments, innuendo, and gossip, by having her give speeches where he knows full well that doing such will encourage attacks from his political foes. It seems to me that if Obama didn’t want the opposition attacking his wife for political statement, he would keep her out of the crossfire. Anything otherwise, seems to be careless, or perhaps, just bating the opposition. No matter what, I feel Obama needs to take some blame for putting his wife in the attack zone. Perhaps if Obama was really concerned about his wife taking hits from the opposition, he might just consider keeping her out of the killing zone. Anything otherwise would be negligent or even, low class.

So what does the junior senator see as appropriate means, if any, to questioning his wife’s political comments and philosophies? Perhaps Peggy Shapiro of the American Thinker has the appropriate ground rules for criticizing Obama & Company. She suggested these rules:

Rule 1 Don’t criticize family no matter who they are or what they do.

Although his wife Michelle is an active member of his campaign and a virulent critic of other candidates, she must not be made an issue in the election. “The GOP, should I be the nominee, can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record,” Obama said. “If they think that they’re going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family.” To criticize Michelle is not part of the normal political fray, but a violation of the sanctity of family. Michelle Obama has immunity from condemnation and free reign to denigrate the country and Obama’s opponents.

Rule 2 Don’t criticize any policy that the candidate might have even if he is not mentioned by name.

The opposition must not challenge Obama’s plan to meet face-to-face with state sponsors of terror, even if the challenge does not mention the Senator by name. A Democratic firestorm broke out when President Bush told an Israeli Knesset audience that negotiating with Iran’s President, who has repeatedly committed himself to the destruction of Israel, is the false comfort of appeasement. Obama, whose policy is just that sort of false comfort, attacked the speech as “a false political attack” launched on foreign soil. Although Democrats have been critical of the U.S. on foreign soil (Obama’s recently dismissed foreign policy advisor Samantha Power is just the first that comes to mind.), partisan politics past our shores is not protocol.

Rule 3 Don’t imply that Obama’s stunning rise to power was the result of anything less than divine intervention.

As Bill Clinton discovered, referring to Obama’s unprecedented rise from an undistinguished state senator, with a short stop in the U.S. Senate, to candidate for the most powerful position in the world was “a fairytale.” Of course, Clinton did not imply that Obama conjured magical powers, but that unusual circumstances were in play. The “fairytale” remark was distorted and regurgitated as a play of the “race card.” There is no more damning or frightening epithet than to be called a racist.

Rule 4 Don’t examine any of Obama’s anti-American, racist, terrorist, or criminal associates.

It’s out of bounds to criticize a public member of his campaign in a key foreign policy position. Criticism of Obama’s associations with Reverend Wright, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko are characterized as “witch hunt” and “guilt by association.” The critic is stained by association with two of America’s darkest periods in history: the hysterical unfairness of America’s Salem Trials and Joe McCarthy’s prosecution of Americans for their “suspected” associations with Communists.

So let’s clarify the rules for the general election so that Republicans are not labeled as destroyers of families, indecent purveyors of false attacks, racists, or McCarthyites. Don’t make negative mention of Obama’s wife, his policies, his inexperience, or his associations.

What’s left? The GOP had better contact the Obama campaign to issue a list of permissible topics.

Related articles:

Michelle Obama is Fair Game (Boston Globe)

Obama’s Chivalry Nice, but…(Hartford Courant)

When cowardice masquerades as chivalry . . .

“Oh my god Marge. I think I said something stupid!”


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