June 22, 2008

Should Americans respond to Michelle Obama the way the French respond to Carla Bruni?

"He has five or six brains which are remarkably irrigated," wrote Carla Bruni, explaining her love for Nicolas Sarkozy, quoted in Maureen Dowd's column today. That kills me.

But here's what I want to talk about:
If an American first lady, or would-be first lady, described herself as a “tamer of men” and had a “man-eating” past filled with naked pictures, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, sultry prone CD covers, breaking up marriages, bragging that she believes in polygamy and polyandry rather than monogamy, and having a son with a married philosopher whose father she had had an affair with, it would take more than an appearance on “The View” to sweeten her image.

It’s hard to imagine the decibel level on Fox News if Michelle Obama put out a CD this summer, as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is, with songs featuring lyrics like “I am a child/despite my 40 years/despite my 30 lovers/a child”; and this song, “Ma came”: “You are my junk/more deadly than Afghan heroin/more dangerous than Colombian white. .../My guy, I roll him up and smoke him.”
Why aren't Americans more like the French? But, really, the complaints you hear about Michelle Obama are not about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. They're about patriotism and racism.

Is it really the case that the French would shrug it off if Bruni's lyrics were "God damn France" and a rant against the nonwhite French? The Obama campaign has to respond to the interpretation of things Michelle Obama has said — "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country" — and rumors about what she is purported to have said — "whitey" — or condoned — Jeremiah Wright's "God damn America."

It makes no sense to suggest that we could just be more like the French. Imagine how the French would react if Bruni's songs had racist and anti-patriotic lines that were exactly strong as those sex and drugs lines. And if they did just smirk and tolerate it, would you think it a good example of sophistication for Americans?

And by the way, it's not good feminism to think that a President's spouse is a fluffy, silly decoration whose words don't matter. She is a human being who should be taken seriously, and she will be in a position to influence and advise the President. We should care what she thinks.

Now, we could have a Carla Bruni type First Lady, whose interests are fashion and music. That might be great fun. But Michelle Obama has not defined and presented herself that way. She is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has given long speeches on substantive issues. To respond to her the way French respond to Carla Bruni would be to insult her.


Moose said...

Michelle only matters in the context of providing a reinforcement for the Barack's image. She, and her views are non-important on he whole, except when they differ from his.

I find the fact that people are uncomfortable with her and this push to "remake" her image amusing...

rhhardin said...

She is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has given long speeches on substantive issues.

Substitute ``he'' and see what feminism amounts to, a temptation always fallen into.

If she has something interesting to say, and manages to hit the nail on the head, I'm sure people will listen.

Women have done it before. I'd take Vicki Hearne and Anne Carson as two fine examples. Nobody ever says they're highly trained or talk about substantive issues.

I'm reminded of hiring highly qualified women into science departments in the early 90s, the era of highly qualified woman talk. The men all think, is that cool or what! A woman you can talk to! They wind up on the women's workplace issues committee. They organize conferences. An interest in science does not sustain them the way it does an obsessed man.

rhhardin said...

Some ancient Doonesbury strip, at some point (law school?) some esoteric legal result is obtained and Woodrow snaps his pencil in total engrossment and says ``God, I love the law!''

rhhardin said...

Michelle strikes me as a nagger.

She's interested in whatever strengthens her position.

Power to whiners! And the non-whiners are at fault.

I don't know that a Carla has that effect. Guys don't mind being bested by a Carla. They play their part. They like it.

She probably nags endearingly.

vet66 said...

The major difference is that Bruni has a sense of humor that comes naturally. Michelle Obama, on the other hand, takes herself too seriously and exhibits no natural sense of humor.

In France, women celebrate their natural power while the feminists in the U.S., represented by Michelle, act like womyn. They alienate the very men and women they try to seduce.

rhhardin said...

``The first time I've been proud of my country'' is a nagging line. It's about time you took out the garbage.

It's not about patriotism. It's about getting her way.

michael farris said...

Answer: No.

Michelle Obama presents herself as a political force, gives speeches on her husband's behalf and probably has some views that a lot of Americans find off-putting.

If Obama's elected, it will be clear that she'll be in the Rosalyn(sp?) Carter, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan mold of very public adviser and not a homebody who keeps out of politics like Tricia Nixon or Laura Bush.

She is and should be discussed as a political force (by her own choice and actions).

Bruni is a stone cold hoochie who wanted to notch up a head of state (or another one? who can keep track) and has no apparent interests besides herself, fashion and the next hittable alpha male on the horizon. It would be absurd to discuss her in political terms.

Moose said...

Have to agree with Farris - hoochie-ness makes up for stupid comments.

Michelle does not have any hoochie factor. I think calling her a "princess" is damning with faint praise.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Drill SGT said...

minor nit. Pat Nixon was the wife

Tricia Nixon was the daughter

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

Maybe those emails of Baracks to Scarlett Johannson are to set up recording sessions for Michelle...A duet album with ScarJo (and backup singer Bono, perhaps?) of Howlin' Wolf covers...

At least some bipartisan bass work for Huckabee!

Quayle said...

As none other than Dr. Laura has written, you can't seduce a man by nagging him into bed. Carla appears to understand that.

Having said that, my take on Michelle, and a lot of public figures and politicians in the U.S. these days, is that they don't know squat about nature and the natural rhythm of things. Not having spent time with plants and dirt, they haven’t learned yet that you can't grow a good garden if you tramp down one row while you are watering and weeding the adjoining row.

But, somehow, Carla seems to understand the force of nature quite well. She seems to know that a plant puts out a flower to attract the bees; it doesn’t nag and lecture to the bees as a “powerful plant.”

With the above in mind, I say that no one should be allowed to be in the office of, or near the presidency, unless and until they have actually successfully grown a both a flower and a vegetable garden for 3 or 4 seasons. Michelle needs to spend more time with the onions and green beans.

Now, you take Obama in this regard. At least Obama talks like he knows how to grow a full garden and complete garden. He points out the poisons and weeds that hinder the growth. His only twp problems are that he keeps replanting the plants in different places, and when a plant gets over the border he declares that it wasn’t the plant he thought it was, and rips it out by its roots, like a weed. (And takes a few surrounding plants in the pull.)

A meticulous and attentive gardener, that Obama.

chuck b. said...

For me, the Amazon ads on this page--the page of just this post--are French. There's Sarkozy's book and a couple of Bruni's albums, but happily, I mean heureusement, the top ad is for that most vital of French philsophes, Gilles Bensimon.

michael farris said...

"minor nit. Pat Nixon was the wife. Tricia Nixon was the daughter"

I thought that looked wrong when I wrote it but was too arrogant to fact check.

And (rising to the occasion) it sort of makes my point, Tricia, was IIRC more vocal than her mother politically. Was she the one who said she'd 'lay down and die' for the South Vietnamese government at the time or was that her sister (whose name I'm blanking on). Pat Nixon was so quiet and restrained it was easy to forget her name.

David said...

Most French people seem to put a high value on the culture and history of their country. Even the leftists seem to glory in their Frenchness.

If a French candidate was surrounded by people who talked about France in the way Michelle (and many other Obama supporters) talk about America, I don't think he'd have very much of a chance.

Kirby Olson said...

Sarkozy and Obama should swap wives for a couple weeks to see who has it better like on that show. It would be fun, and the people of the world could vote on which couple was more demented. I think Obama would be happier with the trade than Sarkozy, but you never know until after the shows are over and the interviews.

Ron said...

Now Kirby has an idea there! Let's get ABC to make a show of WifeSwap:The Highest Level!

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"nonwhite French"

Is that like nonasian Chinese?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Carla should sing "God Bless America" on the next one and see how people react.

Cedarford said...

She is a Harvard-trained lawyer who has given long speeches on substantive issues.

No, the correct answer is - something the media rarely mentions - is she WAS a Harvard lawyer who quit and gave up her law license in 1993 after things hadn't gone so swimmingly at Sidley. And she has basically worked since then in light duty or no show patronage jobs, still lucrative by most Americans reckoning - Obama's wealthy benefactors arranged for her in the Daley machine through their past billionaire minority play toy Valerie Jarrett, then at the U of Chicago where they control the Board and "special job positions".

LutherM said...

Would the French be so loving if Carla had said, "For the first time in my life I am proud of France" ?
Would they endorse being a member of a group whose leader was quoted on DVD saying "God Damn France" ?
I suspect that some of the French would - they did have Laval as a leader.

I like Carla, and wish she was in America. The French should be thankfull that the Obamas are 3000 miles away.

michael farris said...

"Would the French be so loving if Carla had said, "For the first time in my life I am proud of France" ?"

Maybe, she's an Italian national and not ethnically French at all.

"Would they endorse being a member of a group whose leader was quoted on DVD saying "God Damn France" ?"

I don't know, since she is not French (what is her citizenship? would she have to acquire French citizenship in the EU to be first 'lady' of France?

TMink said...

"Should Americans respond to Michelle Obama the way the French respond to Carla Bruni?"

You mean unconditionally surrender to her?


Salamandyr said...

Trust Maureen Dowd to think it all comes down to appearances.