August 26, 2008

I imitation-live-blog Michelle Obama's speech.

I missed most of Michelle Obama's speech last night, and the good thing about that is that now I've got the text, and it's much faster to read and much easier to blog. So I'll imitation-live-blog:
As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother, Craig.
Why might I imagine that? What a strange first line!
And at six-foot-six, I've often felt like Craig was looking down on me, too, literally.
Michelle Obama is 6'6"?! That's a little grammar humor. But okay, I get it now. Craig was standing right there and he's really tall, and so she started off with some warm, casual family and sports talk.
... I come here tonight as a sister.... And I come here as a wife....

And I come here as a mom....

And I come here as a daughter....
My feminist alarm goes off, and I think of Hillary, the woman who would have come here as the nominee.
And, you know, what struck me when I first met Barack was that... his family was so much like mine.

He was raised by grandparents who were working-class folks just like my parents and by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills just like we did. And like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves.

And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values....
She's reaching out to those middle-class white voters Obama needs to win over. Michelle is saying that her family shared the values of the demographic group she's trying to persuade, but she subtly points to what should be more obvious, that Obama was raised by middle-class white people.

In keeping with the campaign's (sometimes elusive) transracial theme, she doesn't say that her family is black and his primary caregivers were white. In fact, nowhere in the speech do we hear the words "black" — or "African-American" — or "white" — except for "White House." A search of the text for "race" turned up only "grace" (twice!) and "embrace," which felt very sweet.
And I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history, knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me, all of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work, the same conviction that drives the men and women I've met all across this country.
She's putting herself in her place, the place that the polls say she needs to be in, where she is not arrogant, not "entitled" and angry, and she loves America. At this point, she lists various kinds of people, people who work hard, who serve in the military, young people, and Hillary Clinton. And Joe Biden.
All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.
She's trying to repackage her erstwhile criticism of America into a respect for it, or at least for its hardworking people, and to use that as a premise for idealism.
And that is the thread that connects our hearts.
Who wrote that line? I can just hear them brainstorming about a way to put the message in really feminine terms: Let's see, there's childcare, cooking... sewing! Thread! And love, feeling... hearts! The thread that connects our hearts. Hey, that's a rather grisly image: sewn thoracic organs. No, no, don't worry about it. No one is that concrete. Maybe some inane blogger somewhere. Forget it. People will hear thread and hearts and feel all the love and connection.
That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.
More thread. And journey. It's always a journey. The current of history meets this new tide of hope. Currents and tides... hey, is that Teddy Kennedy's yacht? (I need to dig up the link to the Ted Kennedy video with its theme of The Sea. [ADDED: Here.])
And, you see, that is why I love this country.
That is the line she needed to say. I imagine it was the first line of the speech that was written and everything else was built around it.
In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. See, that's why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities, because I believe....
Wait. Doesn't her job pay $300,000 a year? And is there really something wrong with working in jobs that can't be labeled "public service"? She goes on to talk about Barack's choice to work in public service, which, of course, includes working as a state and U.S. senator and — if you'll elect him — as a President. This launches the part of the speech that resembles one of Barack Obama's own speeches. And then it becomes more intimate, with this image:
He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital 10 years ago this summer, inching along at a snail's pace, peering at us anxiously at -- through the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he'd struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father's love.
As President, Barack can be our father too. And he will drive that Car of State very, very carefully, inching along. He'll grip that steering wheel at the 11 and 1 positions and peer anxiously in the rearview mirror. A strikingly conservative image, no?
And as I tuck that little girl in -- as I tuck that little girl in and her little sister into bed at night, you see, I think about how, one day, they'll have families of their own and how, one day, they -- and your sons and daughters -- will tell their own children about what we did together in this election.
And so the wife ends her day in proper feminine form, tucking in the little children. Somewhere, a Hillary supporter is weeping.

41 comments:

EnigmatiCore said...

You see, she was going to be an actress
And I was going to learn how to fly
She took off to find the footlights
I took off to find the sky
And here she's acting happy
Inside her handsome home
And me, I'm flying in my taxi
Taking tips, and getting stoned.

Apropos of nothing. Just popped into my head as I read your take on this very accomplished woman who has always had an edge about her morphs into Mary Hatch.

rhhardin said...

Hey, I thought of sewing right away too, when I heard of the thread line.

Never lose the attention of the women. That's the rule for political speeches everywhere.

They vote now.

And of course a lawyer would think of sewing.

Anonymous said...

Great commentary, Althouse. It's difficult to parse treacle, and you've done a fine job of it.

TWM said...

She still scares the crap out of me. Barry, too, I imagine.

Peter V. Bella said...

And like my family, they scrimped and saved so that he could have opportunities that they never had for themselves.

Michelle’s father worked for the City of Chicago. Back then the only way one got a city job was through clout- knowing someone. Her father had to be politically connected to the Democratic Party. She is a product of the Chicago way; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. He had a steady job with benefits. He had a decent paying job. He had a job when others were getting laid off and the economy was starting to tank. Who is she kidding? Barack’s father was a bum! She has more in common with Hillary than she does with Barak; the guy owned a drapery shop, got up every morning, worked hard and tried to make a buck.

Peter V. Bella said...

Currents and tides... hey, is that Teddy Kennedy's yacht? (I need to dig up the link to the Ted Kennedy video with its theme of The Sea.)

Soooooooooooooo, if Bill Clinton gets seriously ill around the time of some convention will we see scenes of him getting on and off private jets in exotic lands? Will we listen to him speak warmly of his love of the jet setting live? Will it end with a Lear flying off into the clouds? Just asking.

Anonymous said...

I was raised by a father and a mother who worked hard to provide that little extra to us.

That is why I should be the quarterback of the New York Giants.

This is history meeting the tide of the new season.

Imagine, a quarterback that is brand new to the game of football, leading the Giants on to another Superbowl victory.

Only in America can novice dreams to be an NFL quarterback be realized.

But our country is so much more than that. Our country is so great that a highschool graduate can aspire to be CEO of GM without any additional experience or training.

America truely is an exceptional place.

bill said...

paste into MS Word, remove all (APPLAUSE), and set the AutoSummarize tool to 10%:


My mother's love has always been a sustaining force for our family. Jobs dried up. And Barack Obama was invited back to speak to people from those neighborhoods about how to rebuild their community.
See, they were ready to work. People like Hillary Clinton...
People like Joe Biden...
... who has never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.
See, it's what he did all those years ago in Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe, working block by block to help people lift up their families.
It's what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard-working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.
See, that's why Barack's running: to end the war in Iraq responsibly...
... millions of Americans who know that Barack understands their dreams, millions of Americans who know that Barack will fight for people like them, and that Barack will bring finally the change that we need.
God bless you, and God bless America.

former law student said...

What a strange first line!

Her speech followed her autobiographical film, which indicated Craig was not only a strong, protective big brother, who would naturally scrutinize any potential boyfriend of hers, but was also a first-rate basketball player.

Back then the only way one got a city job was through clout

I once asked a friend of mine who works there, "How many people work for Streets and San?" He replied "About half." Although there were a lot of patronage jobs, some people had to actually do the work.

But did Mr. Robinson in fact have clout? Somebody alive at that time would know. Was he a precinct captain? I.E. did he distribute literature, ring doorbells on Election Day, drive widows to the polls? Further, in the vernacular, who was his clout? Some disgruntled Hillary supporter in a South Side retirement home would know.

J. Cricket said...

the good thing about that is that now I've got the text, and it's much faster to read.

That is exactly how I feel when you post those ridiculous clips of you blabbing away with someone else. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Give me the text; and take the time to write one!

Automatic_Wing said...

He'll grip that steering wheel at the 11 and 1 positions and peer anxiously in the rearview mirror. A strikingly conservative image, no?

Maybe he'll start smoking a pipe instead of cigarettes. He could be the black Fred MacMurray!

Henry said...

And he will drive that Car of State very, very carefully, inching along.

Oh great, and we'll all get stuck behind him.

Kirk Parker said...

"Wait. Doesn't her job pay $300,000 a year? And is there really something wrong with working in jobs that can't be labeled 'public service'?"

No kidding; just another slap in the face of those who don't work for government or quasi-governmental organizations. No wonder we cling to our guns and Bibles!

Simon said...

Althouse said...
"['I love this country'] is the line she needed to say."

I disagree. That is what she needs to make people believe. Just saying it isn't enough. If the speech was indeed built around that line - and I think you're right - it succeeds or fails based on whether people who were given doubt by things like "first time in my adult life" &c. are reassured. I can't answer that question because I never thought she loved her country, and none of the left-leaning commenters can answer it either, because they never doubted it. The only people who can say are those in the middle - reader, Amba, &c.

ricpic said...

And Barak and I listened avidly to Reverend Wright's hate whitey rants for twenty years until it became, er...inconvenient and we both came to realize that we're merely darker versions of you horrible honkies.

Thank you for letting me into your vanilla living rooms with not one African mask on the wall!

Kirk Parker said...

Along with the decaf, John should take a history refresher. While I yield to no one in my contempt for Janet Reno, the entire Ruby Ridge/Randy Weaver debacle occured under the watch of Bush I.

Anonymous said...

"All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be..."

Canny use of the word "world" here and elsewhere. Imagine the impression if she had used "America" instead: "America as it is just won't do..."

To me, this is where the veneer was thinnest in her speech, and you could almost hear again the "mean America/Barack will demand/first time proud" themes.

But all in all, I have to give her high marks. By itself, I don't think the speech will convert many voters, but it did soften the hard edges given her by events up to this point.

kjbe said...

I hope you actually take the time to watch the speech - there's something to be said for visual presentation and an orator's own inflections.

Sloanasaurus said...

Michele is trying to be Laura Bush. But, she is not Laura Bush. The real Michele is the one who we met earlier this year, who ranted at America, who went to Princton and wrote endlessly about race, who makes $325,000 per year at a 9-5 job, and who attended Rev. Wrights church for 20 years. She has nothing in common with white voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio who voted for Clinton in the primaries.

You can't fake your way to the White House.

Cindy McCain isn't Laura Bush either. She is the daughter of a wealthy business man who took over the family company and made the company even bigger than it was before. Lets hope Cindy doesn't lie to us either if she speaks at the convention next week.

Sloanasaurus said...

I know why politicans try to pretend they are average americans, they want to feel that the politicans understand our plight. But in reality, we don't want average americans running the government. The average american doesn't have a clue how to fix the fannie and freddie mortgage mess. The average American knows nothing about how the invasion of Georgia will impact them or what we need to do to bring gas prices down. We need politicans who have plans to solve these great issues.

This is why a President Obama would be a horrible mistake. We need heros and courageous leaders to solve these issues, not average americans like Michele and Barack Obama.

rhhardin said...

I didn't so much scrimp and save as not have very expensive tastes. That's how I can afford a dog.

Chip Ahoy said...

As you might imagine, the prospect of watching the DNC convention caused me to put on a paper birthday party hat and don a pair of pointy Aladdin jini shoes then create a brief photo essay on a chocolate cheesecake.

See? I too have the conviction to dress myself for work. Oh relate.

Threads hearts vvv,

~~~♥~~~♥~~~♥~~~♥~~~♥~~~♥~~~♥~~~

Michelle ♥ USA

* glees *

Egg shell ant dead blogging, woo and yay.

It's not what you know, it's who you know. Well, that's something to know, then, innit?

I can tell the Democrats are in town in numbers, not because of all the helicopters which make me want to charter a helicopter ride just to tour the city, but also because there's the most incredible floral fragrance wafting through the patio doors and a sense of goodwill and oneness with all humanity is permeating the evanescent ethereal and not very dense atmosphere .

Peter V. Bella said...

former law student said...
But did Mr. Robinson in fact have clout?... Some disgruntled Hillary supporter in a South Side retirement home would know.

How about from someone who does not support Hillary at all. My, my. The disbelief. Back when Michelles father worked for the city you did indeed have to know someone to get a city job, except for certian civil service(civil service was eventually eliminated) positions- police and fire e.g. You had to be loyal to the local Democratic Party. That was the only way one worked for the city of Chicago. If anyone tells you different they are either lying or in the system and won't admit it.

A patronage job is not a no show job or a job where you do not work.. A patronage job is one in which you need a sponsor to get. Back in the Fifties and Sixties, you needed a heavy sponsor, especially if you were Black, to get a city job.

I should know. I live here. I was a cop here for thirty years. I saw how the city that works really works. I know the system. I also have studied the History of Chicago extensively and it has been this way from almost the beginning.

Mr. Robinson had to be part and parcel of the Democratic system or he would never have had a city job. That is the truth and the bottm line.

walter neff said...

I knew Fred MacMurray! I worked with Fred MacMurray. Fred MacMurray was a friend of mine. You Senator are no Fred MacMurray!

Trooper York said...

As good an athlete as he may be, there is no way that Senator Obama can be the quarterback of the WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK GIANTS.

Who currently are at 16 to 1 to repeat which I say is total bullshit and a communist plot. Not to worry, I got down strong and will clean up when we repeat as THE WORLD CHAMPIONS.

Did I tell you lately that the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Trooper York said...

I personally love Michelle Obama. Her purchase of a Donna Ricco dress brought my sales up 2%. We are currently shopping the shows and we have purchased a lot of purple stuff which is very in this year. Plus the fact that Michelle loves purple will lead us to a profitable fall. You go girl.

You go girl, right to Lee Lee's Valise and get yourself some new threads.

That's what I'm talking about!

carly said...

Marcia Brady would be so proud of her protege!! Alas for the Obamas, the world also consists of Jan Bradys who (unless ideology/BDS blinds them to all else) are surely sick to death of all this self-centered blathering.

And of course we know this "real Michelle" IS all an act--a made for TV movie--the intention of which is to distract us from the REAL real Michelle Obama... the one thinks America is "downright mean" and who happily subjected those adorable little girls to the racist rantings of Jeremiah Wright whose hatred of this country she echoed (before she was muzzled and handed a script of this drivel).

I'm Full of Soup said...

Kirby:

Janet Reno at least was one Clintonista who told the truth to the 911 commission.

I loved it when Reno told one commissioner member (Tim Kromer or something) that it was plain old good police work that caught the terrorist in Seattle (Millenium plot?) and the Clinton bigwig daily meetings had nothing to do with it.

former law student said...

who happily subjected those adorable little girls to the racist rantings of Jeremiah Wright

You know for a fact she didn't take them to the Sunday youth services, instead?

I'm Full of Soup said...

It was Tim Roemer. When he got the wrong answer, he quickly dismissed Reno from further questioning.

You could look it up- I don't make this stuff up. Heh.

ricpic said...

Michelle may love purple but she's under instructions to stick to nonconfrontational pastels till the first tuesday in November.

Rumor has it, for those chilly October days on the campaign trail, she's also considering a kelly green windbreaker with Kiss Me I'm Irish embroidered on it in white lettering. A sincere gesture of solidarity with the despised, no doubt.

Luke Lea said...

By not watching, Ann, you missed Michelle continually wagging her finger, and involuntarily interjecting the word "See" at the start of every third sentence.

Unfortunately, in my view (for I plan to vote for Obama), Michelle made way too many policy proposals. She failed to realize that she was interviewing to be the next first lady, not the next Hillary Clinton.

P_J said...

There was an interesting article in the Sun-Times about Michelle's involvement in a program at her hospital to push uninsured (i.e., unprofitable) patients -- primarily low-income, minority ones -- to other facilities.

I guess that's one definition of public service? At least it explains why she gets the big bucks.

former law student said...

Pastor Jeff -- you believe poor people should have to go to emergency rooms for treatment, instead of having their own family doctors? Why?

vbspurs said...

Ann wrote:

He'll grip that steering wheel at the 11 and 1 positions and peer anxiously in the rearview mirror.

I thought it was at 10 and 2?

Now that is a very conservative image.

My car has "sport car bumps" (I'm sure there is a technical name for it, forgive me, I'm but a woman like Michelle Obama) at 9 and 3. Grippier, whereas the conservative imagery evoked for Barack is Ward Cleaverish.

P. Rich said

It's difficult to parse treacle

LOL.

Difficult indeed.

It was an interesting idea for Ann to look at the text, and "live-blog" it. What she doesn't get by not having seen it live (like the 6'6" reference which FLS clarified), she is better able to grasp as intent of message.

I saw a very elegant woman last night. She spoke, as Yiddish vaudevillians used to say, with a tear in her voice. She also tried to tone down her attitude, by portraying herself as a wife, mother, daughter and sister. Anything but a woman on her own merits.

When I read Ann's fisking, I kept thinking of that scrunchy-haired, badly-dressed 1992 Hillary, who defensively snarked that "she could've stayed home and baked cookies", and thought that was exactly what Michelle Obama chose to do...eventually.

The Laura Bush act isn't working, Michelle. We know who controls the aprons in your household, and that's the visual that counts.

Cheers,
Victoria

Daryl said...

Currents and tides... hey, is that Teddy Kennedy's yacht?

No--it's his car!

P_J said...

FLS --

Well, if those poor people had physicians of their own, they could go to them. The problem is they don't, which is why they're going to emergency rooms for basic care. The positive aspect is that the hospital is trying to help people get care that doesn't need to be delivered by an expensive ER. The part that may not be so good is putting ill poor people in shuttles and sending them somewhere else to get care because they're not profitable patients to treat.

It would be interesting to know if only poor non-critical patients are turned away, or if non-emergency patients with good insurance coverage get sent to local clinics, too.

Daryl said...

The speech reminds me of a movie:

THE STEPFORD WIVES

The old Michelle is gone. Say hi to "Michelle 2.0."

rhhardin said...

I hold the wheel at six o'clock with my left hand only, leaving the right hand free.

I always liked the way you pushed right to steer left. Sort of like ailerons without rudder.

I don't do it much, though, only about 500 miles a year; 8,000 on the bicycle.

I could handle the Russians with my right hand while steering the Dodge Colt of State with my left, easily.

Peter V. Bella said...

former law student said...
Pastor Jeff -- you believe poor people should have to go to emergency rooms for treatment, instead of having their own family doctors? Why?

Pastor Jeff is right about the report. But like the media and the rest of the identity pols of both stripes, he has short term memory. There has been a growing movement over the past five years or so to get people to stop using emergency rooms for minor illnesses and use private physicians.

People with Medicaid and some other forms of private insurance will go to an emergency room to get treatment for the common cold, the flu, or even minor injuries. The average emergency room visit in Chicago is around eleven hundred dollars. These visits also put an undue burden on staff. They must treat real emergencies and people who just need a script. Several entities, including insureres, the state and federal government have been trying to dissuade this practice. They want people to go to doctor’s offices for minor ailments and injuries. So far there has been no politically correct solution; you know one that would let people have their cake and eat it too.

Peter V. Bella said...

if non-emergency patients with good insurance coverage get sent to local clinics, too.

Good insurance will not pay for an emergency room visit unless it is an emergency. You will be stuck with the bill. The last three times my daughter went I had to explain to some lawyer why it was an emergency and I have BCBS.