Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Obama Loves America: A Reintroduction

Michelle Obama, looking radiant and brimming with confidence, delivered an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight in Denver.

Mrs. Obama's clear goal was to instill trust in the American people, trust that her husband was just like them, trust that the Democratic nominee shared their hopes and dreams for the health and prosperity of the nation and its people. She spoke of her loving father, who in ailing health spent extra time in the mornings to get ready for work. She spoke of how her dad exemplified a loving care that she worked hard to pass down in raising her daughters. And she spoke of the opportunity that America had provided, the opportunity to attend college and to be on that stage at the Democratic National Convention, living out the true meaning of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Her address was
coherent, reasonably well-delivered, and warmly received by the delegates. Her performance seemed exponentially better than the video snippets from earlier this year, when she notoriously declared that for "the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country."

Mrs. Obama avoided such bitter negativism, finishing her encomium to the American dream with the exclamation, "And that is why I love this country..."

The Wall Street Journal provides some background on the importance of Mrs. Obama's speech:

Aides called her speech on Monday a "reintroduction" to the country. The goal was to show the Obamas as "an American family," said one. "It's get to know the Obamas; they could live next door."

In a statement Monday, the campaign said Mrs. Obama would talk about the couple's life together, "building a family grounded in faith and values."

"After all that's happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago," she planned to say in one section. "He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering anxiously at us in the rear-view mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father's love"....

Many black women hail her as an icon. She is a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer who works as a hospital executive. She is also the mother of two young girls, and is seen as both stylish and outspoken on the campaign trail.

But many whites remain uneasy. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 29% of voters said they had a negative view of Mrs. Obama, almost twice as many as said they had a negative view of John McCain's wife, Cindy. Mrs. Obama's positives were also higher than Mrs. McCain's, with 38% saying they had a positive view of her, compared with 29% for Cindy McCain. (The rest were neutral or didn't have an opinion.)

Mrs. Obama's brother, Craig, when speaking about his sister's community service, did not mention that Public Allies Chicago, a youth leadership development organization where Mrs. Obama had been executive director, has steady ties the Gamaliel Foundation, a group spouting extreme, anti-American ideology on par with Reverend Jeremiah Revered Wright’s black liberation theology.

Stanley Kurtz has more on this:

After hearing about Barack Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Fr. Pfleger and the militant activists at ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), it should be clear to everyone that his extremist roots run deep. But Obama has yet another connection with the world of far-Left radicalism. Obama has long been linked - through foundation grants, shared political activism, collaboration on legislation and tactics, and mutual praise and support - with the Chicago-based Gamaliel Foundation, one of the least known yet most influential umbrella groups for church-based "community organizers." The same separatist, anti-American theology of liberation that was so boldly and bitterly proclaimed by Obama's pastor is shared, if more quietly, by Obama's Gamaliel colleagues. The operative word is "quietly." Gamaliel specializes in ideological stealth, and Obama, a master student of Gamaliel strategy, shows disturbing signs of being a sub rosa radical himself. Obama's legislative tactics, as well as his persistent profession of non-ideological pragmatism, appear to be inspired by his radical mentors' most sophisticated tactics. Not only has Obama studied, taught, and apparently absorbed stealth techniques from radical groups like Gamaliel and ACORN, but in his position as a board member of Chicago's supposedly nonpartisan Woods Fund, he quietly funneled money to his radical allies - at the very moment he most needed their support to boost his political career. It's high time for these shadowy, perhaps improper, ties to receive a dose of sunlight. The connections are numerous.
This background provides an even greater rationale for Michelle Obama's reintroduction to the American people, and to share the story of her family and her hard-working father. It's a background that seems innocent, even poignant, but wholly alien to the fist-bumping, fatigue-wearing, Angela Davis hair-styling image of the future First Lady that Michelle Obama may well still become.

This is why the success of Mrs. Obama's reintroduction tonight was of crucial importance. Her plea to the American people, her bid to reassure average folks that she really does love America, may help her weather some of the closer scrutiny of her Chicago ties that is likely to come before the November election.