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Barack Obama's infuriated by all this criticism of Michelle

July 17, 2008 |  4:56 pm

Campaigning for the U.S. presidency has its really unpleasant personal aspects. Criticism of the candidate is hard for family members to take. And criticism of the family is hard for the candidate to take.

That's why, for instance, in 1999-2000 at their request, George W. Bush kept his teenage daughters out of the spotlight. Until Michelle Obama campaigning for her husband Barack recently in Ohiotheir recent "Access Hollywood" interview, the Obamas did the same with their younger daughters and later said they regretted that exposure.

But now Sen. Barack Obama says he wishes what he calls the conservative press would lay off his wife, Michelle, because she's a civilian who "didn't sign up for this."

Today, she campaigned in Washington state where the state Republican Party welcomed here with an ad (see video below the Read more line, with a hat tip to WakeUpAmerica).

Obama says he finds criticism of his spouse "infuriating." And he adds: "If they have a difference with me on policy, they should debate me. Not her."

In an interview this week with Glamour magazine, Obama complained that “the conservative press -– Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk” had been too critical in its coverage of her.

He said he thinks reporters from those organizations “went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way” and, he asserted, “treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against Republicans.”

Obama would get a real argument about that from some....

...GOP spouses. As other blogs have suggested Obama, and perhaps his wife as well, are going to have to develop thicker skin or it'll be a long fall on hubby's blood pressure.

Trouble is, when any candidate's family members openly campaign as actively as Michelle Obama has been promoting her husband's agenda at huge and small rallies, in media interviews and at fundraisers, they're considered pretty much fair game. And rightly so.

Many writers made fun of Laura Bush's hair and clothing choices in past campaigns. Teresa Heinz Kerry got a pretty rough ride in 2004. Bill Clinton caught tons of flak this past primary campaign season, as did Elizabeth Edwards for some of her outspoken statements defending her husband and attacking Hillary Clinton, who was attacked during her husband's campaigns. Writers on this website have made fun of Cindy McCain's choice of dresses.

Their spouses did not complain publicly.

Michelle came under heavy fire in February after saying she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life (see videos below, including a comment from Laura Bush). She later tried to clarify by saying she's always been proud of her country. But the incident left a mark on Obama’s campaign that echoes around the Internet still.

Obama called the criticism of his wife ironic and insisted that she is “the most quintessentially American woman" he knows. To be accurate, it's not so often Michelle who gets criticized as what she's said.

“She grew up in a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ family,” Obama added.

Obama suggested that both candidates' spouses should be off-limits for the remainder of the campaign because they’re both simply “civilians.”

“They didn’t sign up for this,” said the freshman senator in his first presidential campaign.

But his complaint is likely to fall on deaf ears, especially as long as his wife attends her own fundraisers and campaign events, as does Cindy McCain without complaint.

Full interviews with both candidates are scheduled to appear in Glamour's October issue.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo credit: Associated Press

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