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Michelle Obama: A Wonderful Role Model For Women

AGBF

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Michelle Obama: A Wonderful Role Model For Women

"The Authentic Power of Michelle Obama" excerpted from "The New York Times

"Isn’t it delicious that after trafficking in racism, promoting sexism and using a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace as a pivot into political relevance, Donald Trump could receive his final death blow from a black woman: the president’s wife?

And isn’t it interesting that after so many years of keeping a studied distance from the ugliness of the political arena, the first lady is throwing herself with such passion into this grotesque campaign?

That says everything about the singular threat that Trump poses, and she’s emerging as the fiercest counter to it: Michelle Obama, octopus slayer. She’s effective because she has never gone looking for a fight — we know that about her. She acts when she has something to defend, and as she made clear in a stirring, searing speech late last week, that’s more than her husband’s legacy, which a Trump victory would decimate. It’s her dignity as a woman. It’s the dignity of all women.

I don’t mean to overstate her impact: Trump was going down before she joined the chorus of condemnation. But her eloquence is sealing the deal. First at the Democratic convention in late July and then in New Hampshire on Thursday, she embodied the nation’s conscience and staked her claim as the most earnest guardian of our most important values.

Hillary Clinton can’t play that part. She has made too many messy compromises and revealed too much rococo calculation. Those hacked John Podesta emails suggest that she doesn’t blink until a sprawling committee of Clinton whisperers has hashed out the wisdom of it.

Barack Obama can’t play that part, not at this exact moment, in his precise mood. On the stump in Ohio last week, he essentially asked voters not just to reject Trump but to punish the G.O.P., and his obvious, warranted glee over the party’s travails had a score-settling, told-you-so quality to it.

He excoriated Republicans for the 'swamp of crazy that has been fed over and over and over and over again.' He told them that Trump is the nominee you get when your agenda is “based on lies, based on hoaxes.” He wasn’t merely safeguarding America’s future. He was reveling in his revenge.

Michelle Obama probably also wants revenge for the worst of what her husband (and she) went through, but you don’t hear that in her words.

That’s largely because she has the luxury of not being a politician. She isn’t and won’t be running for anything. She hasn’t been forced to weigh in on a bevy of issues, potentially alienating voters who disagree, or to exhaust her ammunition on a range of fronts. You want high approval ratings? Exit elected office, or never enter it in the first place.

But in addition to that, she has honed a talent — rare in Washington — for rising above pettiness, and she and her speechwriters have aced a nuanced, soulful alternative to common reproach and garden-variety rancor. I think of the gorgeous passage in her convention speech about moving to Washington and watching her daughters wake up every morning in a white house built by black slaves. That observation admonished America for its sins but also brimmed with appreciation, complimenting and congratulating the country on its progress. It got at something that politics and politicians seldom do: the complicated, inarguable truth.

Her speech last week was just as exceptional, because it was less a summons to the barricades than a cry from the heart, and she’d planned to make remarks along these lines even before she heard the recording of Trump’s 2005 conversation with Billy Bush.

Then that recording came out, intensifying her determination. 'It hurts,' she said, referring to the sort of entitlement that Trump expresses, the kind of language that he uses and his obvious belief that women exist chiefly for his pleasure, which takes precedence over their autonomy. 'It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body.'

She added that women often 'pretend like this doesn’t really bother us, maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak.'

'Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable,' she theorized, but she let her own vulnerability show, in a voice that trembled. It was her bridge to every American that she had any hope of reaching.

There has been incessant chatter during this election cycle about authenticity. There has been as much misunderstanding, especially among Trump’s boosters, about what it really means.

Insults aren’t badges of authenticity. They’re evidence of rudeness and frequently cruel. Profanity doesn’t render you authentic. It just proves that you’re a child.

You know what struck me as authentic? The way that the first lady and George W. Bush leaned into each other and held hands at a funeral for police officers in Dallas back in July. Or the way that they embraced last month in Washington at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

To look at those images is to understand Michelle Obama’s power. She isn’t tailoring her behavior to talking points. She isn’t filtering her emotions through any partisan agenda. She has arguably become the 2016 race’s moral authority, which is why Clinton, in the most recent debate, repeated her widely quoted assertion that 'when they go low, we go high.' That’s hardly accurate about everyone in the Democratic Party, the Clinton campaign or the Obama administration, but it’s a fair enough description of how the first lady comports herself."

Link...http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/opinion/sunday/the-authentic-power-of-michelle-obama.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0
 

monarch64

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I've often thought she was an amazing person, Deb. Thanks for posting this.

Last week's very powerful speech: http://mashable.com/2016/10/13/michelle-obama-speech-trump/#adTJi1ZhJSq9

I'm sure there are other versions if one cannot or doesn't want to open that link. Just google "Michelle Obama speech" and the results are plentiful.

When I saw it on Facebook and watched it, I had to share. She is just as, if not more so, a powerful orator as her husband.
 

AGBF

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Monnie, I hope you like this column, too. I certainly did. I was an adult when Anita Hill testified agaisnt Clarence Thomas and I was enraged that The Senate confirmed his appointment to The Supreme Court.

from "The New York Times" by Maureen Dowd OCT. 15, 2016

"ANITA HILL lost her fight.

The creepy guy who acted pervy toward her won.

The issue of sexual harassment burst onto the national scene 25 years ago, exploding in the male dominion of Congress, in the shadow of that macho symbol, the Washington Monument.

Such vulgarities and sexually explicit language had never been heard before in the political arena. It was like a jackhammer drilling down into the most sensitive parts of the American psyche.

That traumatic week in 1991 was considered an important tutorial in sexual harassment. Except that, in the end, droit du seigneur was ratified. Clarence Thomas got rewarded by the cowed Senate Judiciary Committee and ended up with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

No women voted against Thomas because none were on the committee. Just middle-aged white men, many of whom left the chamber believing that there had been some sort of consensual relationship between Hill and Thomas.

Why else did she wait so many years to tell her story? Why else would she not have quit when Thomas was so prurient or at least not follow him to another government office? Male entitlement could fathom male entitlement, but not the myriad ways women continue to be treated as property, and the myriad ways women react to that shameful treatment — suppressing it or working around it.

Now we have been slimed with another week of unprecedented vulgarities and sexually explicit language in the political arena. A cascade of women are stepping up to the microphone to describe a creepy guy acting pervy toward them.

Michelle Obama was Hillary Clinton’s avenging angel at a campaign rally on Thursday. Credit Jim Cole/Associated Press

But this time, women get to vote. Thomas may have won his fight for a bigger job, but Donald Trump will lose. His alleged transgressions have energized women to support Hillary in a way that Hillary could not with her own campaign.

Hillary is in an awkward spot on the subject of licentious behavior by men. But Michelle Obama stepped in as the avenging angel Anita Hill never had. On Thursday at a rally for Hillary Clinton, her voice trembling with disgust, the first lady explained why the 'cruel' and 'frightening' actions of Trump — whom she did not deign to name — could not be written off as 'locker-room talk' or 'a bad dream.'

'It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they’ve said no but he didn’t listen,' she said. 'It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office'"
 
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