As you may know, I’ve been making a real effort to keep an open mind regarding partisan politics, and I’ve found that on several issues (gun control, for example) I agree with conservatives on considerably more than I ever would have thought.
And as you also may know, I’ve not been shy about speaking up when I feel that my fellow liberals are being out of line. The Arizona shootings are a good example – remember that? I don’t think it’s a good idea to blame anyone for a bullet unless he or she is the one who fired it, so I spoke up. Maybe I made a difference, maybe not, but I spoke up.
However, it’s really hard to remain patient while the First Lady is baselessly attacked by several of your nasty, chortling talking heads.
It’s a really obvious issue, and it seems to me that you’re either with them or against them, but in case you don’t think it’s obvious, I’ll go ahead and walk you through it, because it truly isn’t that hard. It’s just slightly harder than sound bites, that’s all.
The First Lady Is Not Telling You What To Eat.
In a literal sense, she is not “telling you” anything. In her capacity as the First Lady, she is addressing the entire nation. You don’t have to take it as a set of personal instructions. That would be what a crazy person would do, upon hearing something on television.
Now if she were your mother-in-law, and she came into your house and said, “You don’t eat right. Start eating this.” Well, then that would be someone telling you what to eat. And you don’t have to listen to your mother-in-law or the First Lady, whether they’re telling you anything or not. You can eat whatever you like.
And how about when Barbara Bush decided to help fight illiteracy? Did you feel that she was telling you what to read? Telling you what to do with your spare time? Did you feel that she didn’t trust you to raise your children properly, that she didn’t trust you to put books in their hands?
I suppose if someone approaches you and delivers unto you some information about whether or not the house is on fire (it is, in this scenario), well I think it does follow that the person is trying to get you to get out of the house. Depending on what sort of person you are, you might call that the delivery of helpful information, or you might say they are sort of bossing you around.
Again, I can’t stress this enough – if you don’t like getting bossed around, you are of course welcome to sit there defiantly in the burning house. If I’m following your logic, that would be because you are so down-to-earth and intelligent, yes?
Much like that person is not quite telling you what to do, but more accurately is telling you what to do in order to avoid a horrible death in your burning house, Michelle Obama is merely telling you generally what you ought to eat, if you wish to avoid the health problems obesity will cause for you and your children.
Maybe you don’t care, maybe you think she should keep her mouth shut. And you don’t have to do the first one, but she doesn’t have to do the second one, either.
If you think Michelle Obama is telling you what to do, then you cannot possibly deny that Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan were both also telling you what to do. I don’t see how any of them were – they were all simply using their positions to advocate causes which they all believed strongly were good for America.
Is that only okay for Republican First Ladies, or is it only okay for white First Ladies? What exactly is your goddamn problem?
What The First Lady Is Saying Is Demonstrably TRUE.
It’s just accurate information, after all. Do you really think it’s not? Really?
You don’t think there’s an obesity epidemic in America? That’s weird, the American Medical Association does (right here), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention does (right here) and the American Public Health Association does (right here). And so did Laura Bush (right here), just four years ago.
She was helping to launch a campaign against obesity in America. Why was Laura Bush telling you what to eat, Rush? Did she hate freedom, was that it?
Doesn’t it matter that Michelle Obama is correct about obesity in America? And then doesn’t it follow that a significant number of people in our country do not have the information she is offering – not forcing on them, but offering – and that maybe some of them want the information? That maybe some of them could use it?
Please, tell me how we gather accurate information about the health of our country’s population, if it’s not from any of those sources up there. And if you’re willing to agree that okay, she’s right, there is a serious obesity problem in our country, then understand that what you want her to do is stop spreading true, helpful information about the health of our citizens.
That is a baffling thing to demand of the First Lady.
Is Michelle Obama a hypocrite?
“Hypocrite” is always treated like such a sexy word, but its logical meaning is actually very weak. Merriam-Webster defines it as a person who “puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion” or who “acts in contradiction with his or her stated feelings.”
The virtue we are discussing is healthy eating, and a single meal is not how you measure such a thing, in the same way that looking out your window in January is not how you measure the temperature of the Earth. By the same token, her meal does not contradict her stated feelings. Therefore, at least as far as rib dinners and obesity are concerned, Michelle Obama is not a hypocrite.
This is a popular kind of conservative strategy, a nasty little soundbite followed by chortling or eye-rolling. Rush Limbaugh even notes that Michelle Obama does not look like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model – an ironic ad hominem attack (see below) from a man who is practically begging for an ad hominem attack.
That swimsuit remark was when he called her a hypocrite for eating ribs for dinner the other night, and it’s not hard getting Ditto Heads to whack their flippers together and repeat what he said. Just bring up the topic and watch them go ARP! ARP! ARP!
But in fact, she would only be a hypocrite in this scenario if she had said “Never eat ribs.” If you are speaking more generally – she says eat healthy and ribs are generally not healthy – then you are not familiar with her message. Let me help you out.
Here’s an article from three weeks ago in which she explains this very clearly. Here’s her website. Click on either of them and you will find that her message is absolutely, perfectly, without question, FULLY CONSISTENT WITH OCCASIONALLY EATING RIBS.
Now, is it perfectly consistent with out-of-context soundbites and paraphrased strawman arguments? Probably not, but if that’s what you think rational discourse is, then that problem is your own.
Also, as my friend Bridget put it, it’s not like she went to Damon’s and strapped on a bib and cranked down a full rack with fries on the side and an onion loaf. She was at Kelly Liken, a very high-end restaurant, where she was eating tiny portions of bison short ribs. And salad and kale.
Wow, who would have guessed that Michelle Obama does not eat ribs the way you or I eat ribs?
Listen – What if Barbara Bush watched a television show? Do you think she ever did that? Did it undermine her stance on illiteracy at all? Why wasn’t she reading a book? She was a hypocrite, wasn’t she?
No, of course she wasn’t. She never said “No one must ever do anything but read a book again.”
What she said was more along the lines of, “As a nation, let’s make sure everyone can read. As a nation, let’s read more.”
Now Michelle Obama is saying, “As a nation, let’s be healthier with our diets. As a nation, let’s eat more healthy things.”
Two ideas which two First Ladies campaigned for, two genuinely good, positive campaigns. I guess I’m supposed to assume that’s a coincidence, that the white Republican was seldom if ever attacked on her signature issue, while Michelle Obama gets crap thrown at her every day for hers.
Although Michelle Obama is certainly not a hypocrite, it wouldn’t matter if she were.
Sometimes it seems perfectly logical. For example, what if Jeffrey Dahmer tells you that you shouldn’t eat people – he’d definitely be a hypocrite, wouldn’t he?
But it doesn’t mean you should eat people, does it, genius? That’s because he’s not his argument. His argument is his argument. That hypocrite was correct about whether or not you should eat people, wasn’t he?
If what she is saying is so wrong, then attack what she is saying instead of attacking her.
Of Course You Are Attacking Michelle Obama.
This ad hominem approach does reveal exactly what is going on with the attacks on Michelle Obama. It’s very clear that what she’s saying is true, that it’s an appropriate campaign for the FLOTUS, and that you don’t have to listen to her. So why are people attacking her again?
It’s very clearly because they don’t care if she’s right or wrong. All they know is that a positive image of Michelle Obama is bad for their party, and so they attack her viciously, every single day. Forget that she’s correct, forget that her message is positive, peaceful, and medically sound, forget that it’s appropriate and forget that your last First Lady did the EXACT SAME THING.
If you’re attacking her, it’s either because you know that every Anti-Obama oar in the water helps your cause, or because you’re a moron, who has bought a load of crap from the guy in the first half of this sentence.
I’ll tell you what, I’ll lay off the ad hominems right when you do.
In closing, let me say that I do apologize to most of you out there, because this is a vocal minority I’m talking about, not the norm. But I’m afraid I’ve completely lost my patience with this crap. We are talking about the First Lady of the United States. People need to have some respect for her. Folks who do not will get none from me.
And if you are just a normal Republican who doesn’t resort to cheap, transparent attacks like these, then please, go in peace, but do yourself and your party a favor. Rein in your idiots. They’re making you all look bad.