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He Said What?

Barack Obama came riding in on his heroic steed to defend his wife Michelle from monsters in the media who dared take words out of her mouth and…and…quote them.

“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” Mrs. Obama said on Monday in Milwaukee, and clearly it was not an unplanned outburst, because she repeated it later that same day in Madison with a softening qualification: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.”

Here is Barack Obama’s response to the criticism of her words:

Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant. What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America. Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.

Let’s review. Michelle Obama reached her majority in 1982. Has nothing happened in American politics of which she could be proud before her husband began causing teenagers to faint dead away and sing ditties to him on YouTube? Nothing? Not even the dollar coin with Sacajawea on it? She is a liberal, so it would be folly to expect her to consider, say, the passage of landmark welfare-reform legislation in 1996 anything to be proud of. So let’s just keep it to matters that gladden a heart that leans to the starboard port side.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991. The elevation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court. The Brady Bill. The Oslo Accords. Bill Clinton’s 1997 balanced-budget deal. Not to mention the rise of gay partnership rights at the local and state level. The lifting of sodomy laws. How about the suspension of the death penalty in Illinois?

“She has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process,” Obama says by way of explanation for Michelle’s new pride. Hmm. Between 1996 and 2004, voter turnout rose from 49 percent of the electorate to 61 percent. Perhaps she didn’t vote? Well, I guess she did. In 2004. For Barack Obama in his winning bid for the Senate. Even that, apparently, wasn’t enough to make her feel pride in American politics, at least according to her own husband.



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