Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is Michelle Obama Above Criticism?

In an interview with Glamour magazine, Barack Obama states he does not have "thick skin when it comes to criticism of his wife." (

The Democratic Party standard bearer went on to say, "It's infuriating, but it's not surprising because let's face it; what happened was that the conservative press -- Fox News and the National Review and columnists of every ilk -- went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way, and treated her as the candidate in a way that you just rarely see the Democrats try to do against the Republicans."

So is Barack Obama telling us that Michelle Obama is above criticism?

Fox News and National Review didn't suddenly gang up on Michelle Obama. They did what news organizations and journals do when public figures make questionable statements. When a possible future First Lady tells the world that she is proud of her country for the very first time it warrants comment. If Cindy McCain had made a questionable comment she would be similarly scrutinized.

I see Obama's statement as a sign of either one of two things.

One, Obama has got incredibly thin skin. He's going to have get used to people not worshipping the ground on which he walks. It comes with the territory. If Obama genuinely wants Michelle to be left alone then he should leave her out of the limelight. But Michelle Obama isn't Bess Truman. She wants to be in the public eye. As such one must be prepared for that eye to view her in less than flattering terms.

Two, Obama knows perfectly well that his wife will inevitably criticized. He also knows perfectly well that he's getting a lot of scrutiny for his forthcoming trip to Iraq from both the Left and the Right. What better away to deflect attention away from Obama's Iraq position than by putting Michelle in front of the bus?

I suspect, of course, it is a combination of both these things. One can be thin skinned yet politically atuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don’t agree with Aaron Goldstein. As the wife of the president is just a civilian who supports her husband, people should not evaluate her as if she were a political candidate, which can be insulting. The media should treat her as a human being who has to support her husband who might have to dedicate his entire time and effort for the nation. The media should give her time and encouragement to learn how to speak and behave in front of the public.