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Michelle Obama and ‘the Few at the Top’



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It was wise late in the 2008 campaign to suggest that Michelle Obama cool it and retrench a bit. There had been one too many “raise the bar,” one too many “downright mean country,” one too many “for the first time in my adult life I’ve really been proud . . .” whines, and the picture was emerging of one who had become increasingly angry since her undergraduate days in direct proportion to the privileges extended her.

 

Now she’s back on the campaign trail, and for some reason is returning to the same hardball politics. The other day, she thundered, “Will we be a country that tells folks who’ve done everything right but are struggling to get by, ‘Tough luck, you’re on your own’? Is that who we are?”

 

Given that the federal budget has increased by $2 trillion in just a decade, entitlements are at record levels, and this administration is now running $1.5 trillion annual deficits, it is hard to imagine that any government has told anyone “tough luck.” And it is even harder to suggest that nine months of a Republican-controlled House — voted in as part of the largest midterm correction since 1938 — has had much effect on the Obama employment agenda of nearly three years, the majority of which time Obama controlled both houses of Congress and borrowed nearly $5 trillion in sending unemployment over 9 percent.

 

And when Ms. Obama charges, “Will we be a country where opportunity is limited to just the few at the top? Who are we?” one wonders, why, then, in the past three years of hard times, did she insist on vacationing, in iconic fashion, at Vail, Martha’s Vineyard, and Costa del Sol, the tony haunts of “the few at the top”? In these rough times, surely a smaller staff, less travel, and budgetary economies would have enhanced her populist message of some at the top enjoying perks at the expense of others.

 

In short, even if she does not revert to 2008 style and restart her lamentations about life in her country being unfair, I think it a mistake for any president to put the First Lady out, in highly partisan fashion, on the campaign trail to attack her husband’s political rivals. And, I think, the public unease with it will soon prove the point.



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