Last night I appeared on Hugh’s show, and his producer Duane mentioned a Michelle Obama speech at UCLA. Captain Ed talked about this a bit, but I hadn’t seen anyone transcribe the part of the speech where it gets a little… unnerving. It starts at about 8:41 in the audio.
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
I’m sorry, nowhere in the Constitution does it authorize the President of the United States to demand anyone shed their cynicism. And I’m all for people pushing themselves to be better, but I don’t think the President demanding it is the way to go about it.
And what if we kind of like our lives as usual? What about Americans’ freedom to be uninvolved and uninformed?
Darleen at Protein Wisdom transcribed what follows:
“You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eights years from now, you will have to be engaged.”
Ah. Apparently apathy will be criminalized, then?
Does anybody on the left side of the aisle find this rhetoric a little creepy? Isn’t this describing an authoritarian presidency way beyond anything George W. Bush has done or proposed?
Do the powers of the presidency really encompass everything Michelle says Obama wants and plans to do? Based on this rhetoric, isn’t he actually running for messiah?
UPDATE: A great line from reader Mike: “That tingle going up Chris Matthews’ leg is a shiver going down my spine.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: For a contrasting view, Dan Riehl thinks it’s not creepy, just high-minded political rhetoric. “I don’t think Lincoln was thinking term limits when he invoked the better angels of our nature.”
I don’t know. I know presidents don’t like cynicism. I know they often urge us not to be cynical. But I don’t know if I like talk of a president “demanding” citizens “shed their cynicism.” Liberty isn’t just about the good stuff; we ought to be free to be cynical. Our leaders demand enough as is in income taxes.
And while presidential candidates are always going on about building bridges to coming centuries and building a better tomorrow, etc., I think pledging to end “life as usual” ought to be sending up red flags. Barring us from going back to our “lives as usual” is not in the job description, and shouldn’t be.