On Tuesday, "Good Morning America" continued it’s week-long promotion of prominent Democrats with a profile of Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle. Co-anchor Robin Roberts, who in teases for the interview on Monday, glowingly referred to Mrs. Obama as "amazing," "very confident" and "professional," today added "strong" and "warm" to the list of adjectives used to describe the Democrat’s wife.
She also asked almost no tough questions of Michelle Obama. Will the spouses of Republican candidates, such as Ann Romney, be awarded such adulation?
Back in November, GMA’s Diane Sawyer queried Barack Obama as to whether Americans were "secretly" more racist or sexist. Ms. Roberts seemed to be posing the slightly less inflammatory version of that question to Michelle Obama:
Robin Roberts: "With a landmark run of both Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama for the 2008 presidential bid, many wonder who has a better shot at making history. Do you think the American public is ready for a woman more so than an African American or vice versa?"
Michelle Obama: "I think that the American people are ready to have somebody that they can believe in and that they can connect to, and I think that, if Barack does what he's supposed to do and he can be clear and articulate in his message, he'll be the next president of the United States."
Roberts introduced the segment, which aired at 7:07am on May 22, by touting it as the first part of "Running Mates," a new GMA series about presidential spouses. However, back in March, the same ABC program introduced a new "series" of town hall presidential specials. Hillary Clinton, thus far, has been the first and only candidate to featured. Will the "Running Mates" series follow a similar formula?
At times, the ABC anchor seemed unable to reign in her gushing:
Roberts: "You are a strong woman. You're a professional woman."
Roberts: "Yes! You’re a professional. You are someone that– You speak your mind, you have, you have something to say. There are some people who look at it as a negative."
Obama: "I don't want to paint some unrealistic picture of who we are so that, in the end, when it falls apart and we haven't lived up to this unrealistic expectation, people feel let down in some way. This is who we are. I've got a loud mouth. I tease my husband. He is incredibly smart and he is very able to deal with a strong woman, which is one of the reasons why he can be president, because he can deal with me."
Not only did Roberts refrain from Mrs. Obama any tough questions pertaining to issues such as whether her husband has the experience to be president, she also let a number of questionable comments go by unchallenged. At one point, the Illinois Senator’s wife even managed to sound like Rosie O’Donnell:
Roberts: "You’ve said that this administration, we've been hearing it, talking about touting family values, but you said you don't see it. Whose fault is this? Where have we fallen short?"
Obama: "All of our emotional and financial resources as a country have been totally put into the war. We haven't talked about a domestic issue in about 10 years. There are no serious conversations about health care or education or child care or minimum wage. I mean, these are the basic issues that eat away at the family structure. So you can't just tell, you know, a family of four to suck it up and make it work."
Roberts: "Is there someone you point to and say it's that’s person's fault?"
Obama: "I think that we as a country have been a little lax in our concern for these issues. We've been nullified by the fear mongers. You know, it's almost as if people have voted against their best personal interests because they've been so afraid of what could happen, you know, the terrorists are going to get us."
Roberts: "Is it not a real concern though, terrorism?"
Obama: "It's an incredibly important concern. But where is the balance, you know, is really the question. Where is the balance? You have to be a respected player. You have to do a little bit of both so that non-ideological, non-fear-based approach is really what we need now as a country."
All our financial resources have been put into this war? (Has Mrs. Obama seen a federal budget lately?) Americans vote against their interests because they're afraid the "terrorists are going to get us"? One would assume these topics would be ripe for more discussion. However, other than the one, weak follow-up about terrorism, Roberts didn’t bother.
Finally, the GMA host broached Barack Obama’s brief legislative experience only once and that was to offer a softball about the Senator’s opposition to the Iraq war:
Roberts: "2002, your husband was a state senator. But he was almost a lone voice out there about the Iraq war."
Barack Obama [from speech]: "I don't oppose war in all circumstances. What I do oppose is a dumb war."
Roberts: "But what is your feeling and your husband's feeling, these many years later?"
Obama: "You know, what you hear him saying now is that you can't do the ‘I told you so.’ We're in a war. We have young men and women over there fighting right now and we have to think pragmatically about bringing this to an end. And again, you can't take a rash approach. You can't just pull folks out. You can't cut off funding completely. You've got to unravel this thing in, in a common-sense way."
The ABC anchor closed the segment by labeling Michelle Obama "a very strong woman, a very warm woman, but someone who is very free to speak her mind."
Mrs. Obama may be all of those things, but is it too much to ask the co-host of a network morning show to maintain a slight degree of objectivity?