I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people accusing me of misquoting Michelle Obama’s famous “proud of my country” remark. A typical letter:
The actual quote that people love to misquote Mrs. Obama for is ‘for the first time in my life, I’m really proud of my country.” It’s disingenuous of you to cite such a long quote and intentionally leave out a word because it may not support your argument as well. The addition of that word changes the tone of the sentence, doesn’t it?
The fact is, my quote is accurate. It’s also true that, in a speech later on the same day, she said the same thing but added the “really.” A few weeks ago, I put this in the Corner:
Have you noticed a shift in the usage of Michelle Obama’s “proud of my country” remark? She said it twice in one day back in February. The first time, she said:
For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.
Later, in another appearance, she said:
For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.
Which one is the correct version? Well, she said them both. But it seems most accounts these days, like the new cover story in Time and this new piece in the New Republic, use the “really proud” quote. Is that because it softens Obama’s sentiments just a bit? I don’t know. But the more the “really proud” version is used, the more it will become the accepted version of what Mrs. Obama said.
I think that is what has happened.