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Michelle Obama -- lightning rod for the right

Our colleague Robin Abcarian has a good piece over on The Times' Campaign '08 page and, being the great writer that she is, she sums it up best herself with her lede: "They loved to hate Hillary Rodham Clinton. They loved to hate Teresa Heinz Kerry. And now, it appears, conservative voices are energetically taking on Michelle Obama."

Abcarian delves into the Tennessee Republican Party's Web video mocking Obama's "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country" comment and how it will echo through the fall election. More significantly, the piece raises the question of whether a candidate's spouse is fair game. There are several ways to slice that up, but you have to figure that if a spouse is out tMichelle_obama_hugs_husband_barack_here on the campaign trail, the spouse -- be it Obama, Bill Clinton or Cindy McCain -- is fair game, for fair criticism.

What's curious is that the most vocal critics, as Abcarian writes, tend to be conservatives sniping at Democrats. (But then, Republican candidate spouses haven't made as much news as the Democratic spouses). And fairness tends to be in the eye of the beholder (Evidence: the comment sections on this and other blogs).

But for the candidates, the prime issue is to make sure the spouse isn't stumbling around off message, and saying things that anger the very people you're trying to appeal to and give ammunition to those who oppose you.

-- Scott Martelle

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (8)

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My guess is this is as much about class as race. I don't discount the latter, but there's no doubt ... Whether Barack and Michelle "rose from humble beginnings," they're not humble any longer. Clearly, this rankles. And, yes, this could get worse. Blogger Larry Johnson, at NO QUARTER, considers Michelle a walking disaster and he claims that at least four sources have assured him there IS a video of her delivering an "anti-white rant," which will be unveiled after Obama officially receives the nomination.
Why waste the powder now?
I don't know if true or false, but if the former, then she will truly be a lightning rod for Obama. He may have to take her off the circuit. I'm not really even sure she has tried to clarify her remarks about America being "downright mean." If not, then she's going to take a lot of incoming.
My guess is, if there is even the slightest anti-American tinge to any of her remarks, they'll be taken as evidence of his lack of "true" patriotism (hers, too). There are already some of the dominos lined up. if she comes out in an "anti-white rant" then I think he can kiss several million votes "goodbye!"

We are all focusing on Michelle's "For the first time..." speech, that other comments she has made have been ignored. What about the comment on national TV when she stated... I was always a bright child...I had two parents who loved me very much...? What message was she sending to single parents? Forget the humble roots, she has left those way behind, she has an attitude that she is brighter, and better than most middle and low class Americans!!! She will be her husband's demise.

I read the article, & I saw nothing wrong with what Michelle Obama said. In fact, I agree with all of it. If the Republicans hadn't ruined my country, I would feel differently. I think that most Republicans don't understand what people have gone through in this country because of their horrible policies. Maybe they will understand when the Democrats take a strong majority in Congress, which I am absolutely certain will happen. They are going to feel our wrath.

I certainly am not a fan of many of the policies of the Republican party; but to read the "feel the wrath" comment of tismith1963 is disturbing.

This is exactly why less government is better. No American should ever feel its wrath.

As far as the comments on Ms. Obama; if she can't stand the heat, stay out of the White House.

I feel that She is going to be a serious issue with her better then others attitude. Pride is one thing and knowing how and when to display it is a lesson most people learn as they are struggling to better them selves. This is a lesson that she seems to have missed, along with her husband. Humble pie can be difficult to digestwith the menu that is being served up. I am a dem, but feel that I need expierence in the white house to try and deal with the mess that this nation is in. Obama is not ready yet mabey in 2012. We continue to place change in theCongress and Senate to balance out the absurity that has gone on for the last for years. Hopefully Mclame will see this when he takes the house for one term.

Michelle Obama is a wonderful, intelligent, beautiful woman, who has lived an exemplary life. She didn't become someone's mistress when she was 24; she got her education, got married, and had children, in that order. She did all the things tht we tell youung people to do. She is the kind of woman that we should be telling young women to model themselves after. I had an opportunity to hear her on the campaign trail and she was magnificent - she's funny and smart. All this talk about her not being humble is a bunch of hogwash. She is gracious and she will make a fantastic first lady. And I'm not going to stand by and let the Republicans or anyone else smear her. I take attacks on Michelle Obama personally and I'm only one person but I'm going to use all the resources I have - my voice and my pen - to speak out against the attacks. And I'm getting my friends and relatives organized to do the same. I have this to say to those who attack her - bring it on, baby, bring it on!

MICHELLE,JUST ACTS LIKE SHE IS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. SHE HAS HAD SO MANY GOOD THINGS IN HER LIFE ,YET SHE IS NOT PROUD OF HER COUNTRY.
THEY MAY HAVE LEFT THE CHURCH,BUT THEY STILL PRACTISE THE PREACHING.....
SHE HATES WHITE PEOPLE AND YET HER HUSBAND IS HALF WHITE......
TO BE AN EDUCATED WOMAN, SHE SURE DOES NOT GET IT....
OBOMA ,HAS NOT GOT ELECTED YET....SHE SURE NEEDS A MAKE OVER IF SHE IS TO BECOME FRIST BLACK LADY OF THE HOUSE......
THE WORLD WILL SEE HER AS I AM IMPORTANT...
WOUNDER HOW MANY PTO MEETINGS OBOMA, WILL MAKE IF HE WERE TO BE PRES. HOW MANY DATE NIGHTS. PARNET TEACHER MEETINGS AND SCHOOL PLAYS DANCE CLASSES AND ETC.??????? YOU DO REMENBER HOW HE NEVER MISSED ONE ,HE IS SUCH A GREAT DADDY.
WELL HOLD ON WAR ,,,DADDY HAS TO GO TO DANCE SCHOOL
SHE IS FAIR GAME AND WILL GET HER FAIR SHARE, SO OBOMA, YOU CAN LET THE CRYBABY TEARS FLO, CAUSE IT HAS NOT EVEN STARTED YET. YOU HAVE HER OUT IN THE PUBLIC AND WE ARE WATCHING,AND WE WILL FIND FAULT,THIS IS THE AMERICAN WAY.....IF YOU AND M. CAN NOT TAKE THE HEAT GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN..............

Who defines the American way? If you believe you do then maybe you are a communist or a socialist who feels a compulsion to define people. Maybe you're not, maybe your finding fault in someone because of a lack of ability to see the greater picture, the larger question. As Americans I feel we have the responsibility to evolve, grow and change with the space and the times. Ingenuity is a great American characteristic, matter of fact it is a great human characteristic. The petty commentary over frivolous topics amount to little in the face of Famine, Nuclear War, 100 year wars, Bio Warfare, ect. I see fault in the premise that because Michelle attributes her past and present life success to having two loving parents she is in some way too proud or believes she is better others. She IS mostly likely brighter then most people, that is the general assumption of those who are able to gain acceptance in to our prestigious Ivy league institutions. We, Americans, need to use wisdom gained from the past rather then the destructive dusty old ways of the past. Can we better our society? How long has Hillary held office (on her own merit, not Bills)? Lets be just in our accusations so we can create the best America we can. Love


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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