Jim Sensenbrenner sorry for saying Michelle Obama has 'big butt'
Republican lawmaker Jim Sensenbrenner has apologized for snarky remarks made about First Lady Michelle Obama's figure, including that she has a "big butt" for someone who is always admonishing the nation to eat right and exercise.
"I regret my inappropriate comment and I have sent a personal note to the first lady apologizing," the U.S. representative from Wisconsin said in a statement released to the media.
The lawmaker appears to have made two separate comments about the first lady's derriere, both connected with his appearance at a church's Christmas bazaar in Hartford, Wis. One church member in attendance, 72-year-old retiree Ann Marsh-Meigs, said she was among those stunned to hear Sensenbrenner's negative comments about the first lady, which also extended beyond her figure.
At one point, she told Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the congressman noted that the first lady wrapped up her work at a charitable event just as the media took its leave, while Sensenbrenner's handicapped wife continued to work it.
"He then talked about how different first ladies have had different projects -- Laura Bush and literacy -- and he named two or three others. And then he said, 'And Michelle Obama, her project is obesity. And look at her big butt,'" Marsh-Meigs told Bice.
She told Bice she was the only woman sitting at the table at the time, and wasn't going to let the comment pass. "I just said, 'I just happen to think Michelle Obama is a beautiful and elegant lady, and I think she dresses beautifully.' And then he said, 'Oh, well, I think she's elegant, too.' He just started backpedaling.'"
A while later, Sensenbrenner was reportedly overheard on a cellphone seeming to brag about the confrontation with Marsh-Meigs. According to Bice, the lawmaker allegedly said that he had been at a church event "buying all their 'crap'" when a woman began complimenting the first lady and he told her '"she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.'"
Amanda Infield, a spokeswoman for Sensenbrenner, said in a statement to Bice that Sensenbrenner planned to apologize: "Mr. Sensenbrenner was referring to the first lady's healthy food initiative," the statement said in part. "He doesn't think the government should be telling Americans what to eat. While he may not agree with all of her initiatives, he plans to contact the first lady's office to apologize for his comments."
No word yet on whether Sensenbrenner will also apologize for his remark about the church bazaar.
This story is making headlines for another reason as well. Because it involves politics, journalism and hearsay, there is also a story behind the story.
Bice said he had the goods on this story days ago but "Unfortunately his editors made him sit on it (pun intended) to gather more information," says Fishbowl D.C. It offers a look at the sausage-making in a story headlined, "Sensenbrenner Big Butt Plot Thickens."
As for Michelle Obama, she is unlikely to respond to Sensenbrenner. She didn't respond publicly when conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh made fun of her body shape. And besides, she's vacationing in Hawaii with daughters Sasha and Malia.
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Photo: First lady Michelle Obama carries a bag of donated Christmas toys to a Toys for Tots event last Friday. Credit: Associated Press/Evan Vucci