To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To a community organizer, every citizen looks like a victim entitled to someone else's money.
The Obama campaign and administration has proved that again and again. But both the president and his wife put a fine point on it with commencement addresses this month. (Joe Biden also gave one, but it's a safe bet that nobody - Joe least of all - knew what he was talking about.) To the Obamas, grads should opt for the virtue of what Michelle has called "helping" careers, and eschew the vice and corruption of the private sector.
NBC's Matt Lauer and Al Roker, on Tuesday's "Today" show, revealed they enjoyed a "nice" evening at the theater last night, in the presence of Michelle Obama, as she "dazzled New York City for a second time," when she visited the Metropolitan Opera House. After an Amy Robach piece that celebrated Mrs. Obama's return to the Big Apple, Roker and Lauer bragged that they too were in attendance at the American Ballet Theater Spring Gala, along with the First Lady, as Roker gushed: "It was fantastic!"
For her part Robach joined in the Obama family myth-making as she cheered, "Everyone takes notice when the First Lady is out on the town here in the Big Apple and Monday was no exception." Robach, in her piece, even included several soundbites from a delighted New York Times' Jodi Kantor who enthused: "You look at the kind of parties that the Met hosts and if you look at the top ballet galas in New York they always have big celebrities there, but Mrs. Obama is a different order of magnitude."
... Mrs. Obama's "Mom-in-Chief" image was created more by Obama image-makers David Axelrod et. al. to soften her into a first lady Americans could love. I think it is a sad state of affairs that Americans are more comfortable with a non-threatening first lady than with a career woman, but it is also a stereotype that screams to be abolished. Michelle Obama is just the person who could have done it, but she decided against it. Instead, she caved into advisors' demands.
The truth is, until that stereotype becomes history, all women will suffer less power and clout in the workplace.
The Washington Post found a very liberal way to celebrate Mother's Day. In the Outlook section, Sally Quinn wrote an entire essay offering her deep appreciation for the First Lady's arms. Will the flattery never cease?
Michelle Obama's arms, we determined, were transformational. Her arms are representative of a new kind of woman: young, strong, vigorous, intelligent, accomplished, sexual, powerful, embracing and, most of all, loving.
Today is Mother's Day. Today we should celebrate Michelle Obama's arms as the arms of a mother.
....She has come under attack for exposing her arms. They are toned and muscular, burnished and beautiful. That has to be threatening to some. For some men, often, a strong woman makes them feel diminished. For some feminists, the idea of an educated woman not taking on a full-time serious job is a frightening throwback.
Chris Matthews just can't get it up. The Democratic Party label that is.
On the May 8 "Hardball", the MSNBC anchor noted in his Political Sideshow segment that Reps. Jim Moran (Va.) and Bob Brady (Pa.), are up in arms about erectile dysfunction drug ads running on television and are sponsoring legislation before the House to ban television stations from running ads for drugs like Viagra and Cialis from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The Democratic congressmen argue the ads are indecent for children. [get audio for download here]
While the legislation's premise seems prudish at worst and laughably silly at best, Matthews insisted that the congressmen, who are "regular guys" and "both friends of mine" were simply "looking out for the kids." All the same, he failed to give the Democratic Party credit for threatening the cold shower of government regulation on the drug commercials.
One test question for Time readers and subscribers who slogged through the whole Time 100 (the most influential earthings): which profile is the sugariest? There's a real contest between Michelle Obama (by Oprah Winfrey) and Oprah Winfrey (by Diane Sawyer). First, there's the huge picture of Mrs. Obama at the top of the Heroes & Icons section, and complete adoration from Oprah:
Michelle Obama doesn't just inspire us. She affirms us with her intelligence, authenticity, depth and compassion. We see the best of ourselves in her and marvel that no matter what she's doing, she brings 100% of herself to the experience.
The Drudge Report has the latest candidate for the Omission Watch, especially considering how much the networks have displayed their white-hot love for Michelle Obama. The First Lady had the political cluelessness to wear $540 sneakers out on a mission to help the poor! From the New York Daily News:
While volunteering Wednesday at a D.C. food bank, the First Lady sported her usual J. Crew cardigan, a pair of utilitarian capri pants and, on her feet, a sneaky splurge: trainers that go for $540.
That's right: These sneakers -- suede, with grosgrain ribbon laces and metallic pink toe caps - are made by French design house Lanvin, one of fashion's hottest labels....
It's likely Michelle got hers through Ikram, the Chicago retailer that often outfits her.
"They're shoes," the First Lady's reps sniffed when curious reporters inquired about the fancy footwear.
ABC reporter Yunji de Nies filed a gushing profile piece on Tuesday's "Nightline" for the first 100 days of Michelle Obama, showering praise on the President's wife. De Nies rhapsodized, “From her inaugural debut, Michelle Obama has been the belle of the ball.” Playing a clip of Mrs. Obama unveiling a statue for abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the ABC journalist described the First Lady as “perhaps the most powerful woman of the moment.” (If that's so, shouldn't reporters such as de Nies try to be slightly less fawning in their coverage?)
De Nies used the type of descriptions that have become typical from reporters who discuss the Obamas. She informed, “Her European tour solidified her rock star status," then added, “She held her own in a fashion face-off with model turned singer turned First Lady of France, Carla Bruni Sarkozy.”
CNN’s resident curmudgeon Jack Cafferty blamed Republican losses in the 2008 election, in part, on their use of the “socialist” label against Democrats during his regular commentary on Friday’s Situation Room. After reporting on a “conservative faction of the Republican National Committee” wanting to use this label against their opponents, and how they petitioned RNC Chairman Michael Steele to consider a resolution about it, he continued by labeling this faction “hardliners.”
Before reading some of the viewer responses to his commentary, he returned to gushing over Michelle Obama, suggesting that she might be president in the future. Cafferty also told one apparently conservative respondent who used the fascist and communist labels to “lighten up.”
The commentator made his regular “Cafferty File” commentary seven minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He began immediately with his swipe at Republicans: “Wolf, it seems like some Republicans still have not figured out that they lost big-time last November, in part, because the American people are sick and tired of their style of politics. Exhibit A: a conservative faction of the Republican National Committee wants the party to brand Democrats as socialists.”
News editors need to retake Journalism 101 or move to features when stories about the White House dog take precedence over a controversial veto by the President's unconfirmed appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill, House Substitute for SB 218, April 23 which would have placed additional restrictions on third trimester abortions and allowed more criminal charges over late-term procedures to occur.
With the exception of "Special Report with Bret Baier" that night and "Fox and Friends" the morning of April 24, the broadcast media avoided covering the controversial decision. But "Today," "The Early Show," and "Good Morning America" all had time to cover Michelle Obama talking about the first family's new dog Bo the morning of April 24.
CNN correspondent Alina Cho went out of her way to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “meteoric rise to style icon status” and how it has inspired the fashion industry during a report on Thursday’s American Morning. After detailing how a dress Mrs. Obama wore on the cover of Essence magazine ended up selling well, she commented that “the bottom line is designers are looking at Michelle as a muse now.” Cho also detailed how the apparent Obama-inspired fashion craze has expanded to cosmetics and fitness classes.
Co-anchor Kiran Chetry introduced Cho’s report, which began 17 minutes into the 6 am hour of the CNN program, by trumpeting how “nearly a 100 days into her role as first lady, it’s become clear that she’s really a one-woman stimulus package for the fashion industry.” The CNN correspondent continued with similar lofty language: “Michelle Obama’s meteoric rise to style icon status has surprised even those in the fashion industry. For months, we’ve been watching everything she wears, and in many cases, we’re going out and buying it. So designers are sitting up and taking note. They’re thinking it’s time to cash in.”
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen made an important news announcement: "Well, the latest Obama paper dolls are out and we have got them right here to check them out." Chen went on to explain that the collectible books of paper cut outs of Barack and Michelle Obama: "...came out when -- during the whole campaign...And then now this is the inaugural."
Chen later asked: "Do we think that this looks like Barack and Michelle?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez responded: "Absolutely not. Not even a little bit." Early Show medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton was also on set, and chimed in: "No, he [Obama] looks so much better in person." Rodriguez then added: "Not even a little bit, it's not their faces. Those are not their faces." Chen explained: "It's more Michelle than -- it's not Barack's face, but it's more Michelle. Because I think they have her eyebrows down."
After a detailed discussion of the dolls’ likeness to the Obamas, co-host Harry Smith proudly exclaimed: "Well, I'm very excited to get my collectible campaign edition, so."
The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama.
They lap up every shred of information about the first daughters, dream about meeting them and strategize ways to make it happen. Minivan rides and dinner table conversations are dominated by questions about the girls: What's their favorite food? What kind of dog did they get? Where can I get a coat like Malia's?
"Sometimes I go up to my room and I just think, 'I want to meet them, I want to meet them, I want to meet them,' " says a desperate Sophie Metee, a fourth-grader at Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda.
Later we learn that fascination with the young ladies "may also have a great deal to do with President Obama's popularity in the country and the region -- he won an overwhelming majority of Washington area votes and enjoys significant approval ratings."
The "Today" show devoted much of last week's coverage of Obama's European trip to obsessing over such frivolous matters as what Michelle Obama was wearing and what kind of gift the Obamas gave the Queen, so when Laura Ingraham was invited on Wednesday's "Today" show, the conservative radio talk show host couldn't resist knocking the silly coverage, as seen in the following exchange with NBC's Matt Lauer (audio available here):
MATT LAUER: So let's be fair and say that he didn't come away accomplishing what he went there to accomplish, but is it possible to say, look at it slightly differently, Laura, and say some of these things take a while to bear fruit and that perhaps some of these leaders, other leaders were reluctant to come forward with some of these things under the glare of the summit spotlight and they may be more forthcoming in the coming weeks and months?
LAURA INGRAHAM: Well I don't know, I guess that's possible. But look we, we know that Europe loves President Obama. He had adoring crowds. The press loves Obama.The question is how will this date end? Okay? The question is, to what end? Why do they love President Obama? They love his personal story, they love his wife. North Korea, China and Russia don't really care about Michelle's arms and, you know, whether they gave an iPod to the Queen, okay? They care about whether America is still going to lead, exhibit strength and doesn't just talk about these vague concepts, Matt, of global cooperation.
Imagine being Laura Bush and turning on the television and watching the absolute deluge of sticky-sweet syrup being poured all over Michelle Obama during her European debut as First Lady. It is as if every TV reporter was handed a pamphlet of talking points, and ordered to compare Mrs. Obama to Jackie Kennedy. NBC’s Dawna Friesen gushed: "Though Harvard-educated Michelle Obama has substance, not just style, and that’s what sets her apart."
Apart from....whom? Unspoken, but unmistakeable, NBC’s saying Michelle has more substance than Laura and more style than Hillary. Everyone expects the press to be polite and gentle with the First Lady, but this is ridiculous. The official "news" media line now is that Michelle is the most smashing and fashionable and intelligent First Lady in recent history, maybe ever.
Friesen’s embarrassing report set the tone early; it began with five seconds of the Frankie Valli song "Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You," as in "You’re just too good to be true." That would describe the press, in love and going way beyond the truth. Apparently, Michelle’s just like Heaven to touch. The media want to hold her so much.
It appears that CNN’s “Michelle mania” has reached a new level. After referring to the Obamas as the “royal family of the United States” on April 1, the network conducted a web “quick vote” on Monday on whether the first lady should run for her husband’s position in 2020.
The results, however, did not bode well for “mighty Michelle,” as one guest on CNN labeled Mrs. Obama. Before the poll was taken down, 83% were opposed to the idea, while 17% were in favor. As the graphic states plainly, it is not a scientific poll.
As much as this “Michelle mania” is apparently running rampant abroad, as the network would lead you to believe from these reports, these results may mean that “America’s unofficial royalty” have some obstacles to overcome before any political dynasty could become a reality.
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz caused a little stir on Friday by questioning the excess of media goo over Michelle Obama. But when he tried to assemble a panel for his CNN show Reliable Sources on Sunday, everyone agreed that Michelle goo was great fun to watch. Liberal blogger Keli Goff and liberal BBC journalist Matt Frei were not surprising. But sadly, the "conservative" on the panel, Danielle Crittenden of NewMajority.com (Mrs. David Frum), was enjoying the fawning over Michelle as much as the liberals:
KURTZ: Danielle Crittenden, she's been compared to Jackie O., to Princess Diana. Isn't the coverage getting a little breathless?
DANIELLE CRITTENDEN: Well, it's probably a little breathless, but it's fun. I happen to enjoy reading it. I think it's more actually the analogy is that this -- they are like the Brangelina of politics right now. We call them Barchelle -- go to Europe.
She's also, I think, the first post-feminist first lady we've had in that she seems to really be embracing her role as first lady. She finds it fun. It's a great job.
Crittenden actually echoed the liberals again when Kurtz tried to ask about the crowding out of substance on the G-20 summit:
Friday’s CBS Early Show continued its fawning coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama in Europe as co-host Harry Smith gushed over the First Lady: "I mean, there's a kind of just raw realness about her. That session with the schoolgirls yesterday...People were in tears." Smith made the comment while talking to executive editor of thedailybeast.com, Tina Brown, who had her own words of praise: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes..With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there's also -- I mean she's almost like overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational 'it' girl at this point." [audio available here]
Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, ‘oh, my God, it’s Di time all over again.’"
Former Democratic political operative-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Friday's "Good Morning America" to tout what a "star" Michelle Obama became during the trip to the G-20 summit in London. After being asked by co-host Chris Cuomo about the decision by the President to take his wife, the "This Week" host effusively responded, "That turned out to be a no-brainer, didn't it, Chris? I mean, Michelle is a star."
Comparing the First Lady to another family much-loved by the liberal media, he continued, "Again, much like Jackie Kennedy on her first trips overseas with President Kennedy, she is doing so well for the President, for the country right here." Speaking of how the President did at the summit, he opined, "But the President did a good job of managing expectations going into the summit. So, that what they came out with seemed like a victory." Isn't that essentially saying that journalists allowed themselves to be spun by the President and his team?
"Good Morning America" reporter Yunji de Nies continued to fawn over Michelle Obama on Friday, lauding how the First Lady shared her "Cinderella story" with a girls school in London. An ABC graphic for the segment opined, "Michelle Wows Europe: First Trip Big Hit." Recounting the positive reception the speech received, de Nies cooed, "But it was her personal touch that made the biggest impact."
Tina Brown, liberal commentator and former editor of the New Yorker, was featured to rhapsodize, "I don't see any misstep from Michelle Obama on this trip. She really excited everybody. She's done it right." Of course, de Nies made no mention of Brown's left wing political views. Sounding more like a PR representative, the GMA correspondent asserted, "She [Michelle Obama] leaves the U.K., no longer a stranger, but, now, a friend."
“People are looking for something to criticize.” Yes, Barbara they are. And you were once among them.
Barbara Walters took exception to complaints from some that the Obamas made a royal mess of British protocol when meeting the queen of England. However, just over a year ago, Walters herself sniffed at the Bush White House for sending her a Christmas card containing [gasp!] “Scripture.”
On the April 2 episode of “The View,” the co-hosts discussed the murmurings that the president and first lady broke protocol when meeting the queen of England. Walters got visibly upset, waving her hands and speaking in a high, mocking tone saying, “And then people criticize because you know people are looking for something to criticize,” she said. “It makes me unhappy we are always looking for something to criticize, ‘Why did she put her arm around the queen?’.”
The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star.” He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how “she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town.” Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: “To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful.”
Two noteworthy quotes from the CBS Evening News:
> In a wrap-up piece on the G-20 summit, anchor Katie Couric decided it was relevant to stress: “The people of London treated the Obamas like rock stars, the kind of reception an American President has not received in some time.”
> CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many waving raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: “The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions.”
Two journalists appearing as guests on CNN on Wednesday and Thursday praised “mighty Michelle” Obama for being “stylish,” “successful,” and for showing “an interest in wanting to reach out to people who may feel they’ve been disenfranchised or held at a distance from the power structure.”
Eighteen hours later on Thursday’s American Morning, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan tried to sell how Mrs. Obama could aid her husband on the international stage: “[She] helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration. And also, I think that for many people, there was, to some degree, a sense of being closed off to the rest of the world or closed off to those who are kind of outside of the mainstream by other administrations. And I think this is a way of trying to build those bridges in a way that is very non-confrontational.”
Thursday’s CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."
Later, Chen asked about the Obamas’ gift to Queen Elizabeth, an ipod loaded with show tunes: "Now, what are people saying about the First Lady and President Obama's gift of an ipod to the Queen?" Seward declared: "Actually, an ipod is a perfect gift for the Queen because in the cellars of Buckingham Palace, she has so many unwanted gifts, sort of trophies and unattractive pieces of jewelry. I mean, she couldn't be more thrilled with something useful like an ipod."
NBC's Dawna Friesen, reporting from London on Thursday' "Today" show relayed how "Michelle's Magic," has "dazzled everyone," in the United Kingdom and co-anchor Matt Lauer joined in, as he loved the tacky gift of an iPod to the Queen: "I like this idea. I think it's a, it's a very creative idea to bring her the iPod." Friesen also played down Michelle Obama's gaffe of contact with the Queen, "There was no curtsy, but plenty of easy charm, and it seems Mrs. Obama made another new friend, never mind that royal protocol forbids touching the Queen." This despite the fact that just yesterday, her colleague Keith Miller made a big deal out of past presidential gaffes with the Queen like when George W. Bush winked at Her Royal Highness.
The following is a complete transcript of the full segment as it was aired on the April 2, "Today" show:
"Good Morning America" reporter Yunji de Nies on Thursday gushed over Michelle Obama's appearance in London for the G-20 summit, thrilling about the First Lady's fashion and the fact that "Mrs. Obama hasn't lost touch with her sensible chic American roots." In contrast, GMA ignored the controversy over Mrs. Obama touching the Queen of England during her visit, which many consider a breach of protocol. Similarly, the show's hosts and reporters downplayed the fact that the Obamas gave Queen Elizabeth II an iPod loaded with Barack Obama's speeches.
This is despite the fact that the very same de Nies filed a report on Tuesday on the history of overseas presidential trips. She insisted, "But one unlucky misstep and everyone remembers." She then proceeded to feature supposed gaffes from Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Two days later, however, de Nies ignored the missteps of the Obamas and filed an absolutely laudatory segment on the First Lady. She rhapsodized, "The First Lady showcased her signature sleeveless style, her bare arms reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy, the last First Lady to cause such a stir across the pond."
“There is so much to cover on this day,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced Tuesday night from London as the network anchors and reporters reflected their awe over how, as NBC anchor Brian Williams put it, “In a marathon, the President meets with the leaders of Britain, Russia, China, then the Queen, and the summit hasn't started yet.” NBC's Chuck Todd then admired how “the President was able to do a diplomatic decathlon, packing in a week's worth of international diplomacy into 12 hours,” before he hailed how “America's unofficial royalty, the President and First Lady, reconnected tonight for more ceremonial duties, including a private audience with actual royalty, the Queen herself.”
CBS and NBC devoted full stories to what the CBS Evening News dubbed on screen as “Michelle Mania.” Katie Couric teased: “The British give America's First Lady a welcome fit for a Queen.” On NBC, Williams echoed: “There is no denying the Obamas from America are receiving a rock star reception on this trip. One London paper today called them 'American royalty.'”
From London, Williams opened the NBC Nightly News with a list of President Obama's “marathon day” of activities:
CNN correspondent Alina Cho loaded the regal language into her report on Wednesday’s American Morning about Europe’s “apparent love affair” with Michelle Obama. Besides the obligatory Jackie Kennedy references, Cho gave a preview of the first lady’s tea with Queen Elizabeth II: “On today’s schedule: tea with the queen, and insiders say the queen and America’s queen bee will be fast friends.” The correspondent even compared Mrs. Obama to Princess Diana. She also referred to the Obamas as the “royal family of the United States.”
Cho began her report by hyping the first lady’s popularity, how it apparently isn’t exclusive to the States, and how it could overshadow her husband the president: “Tina Brown, as you know, joked about an hour ago that Sara Brown is a beautiful girl but, you know, everybody sort of knows that right now, at least, she pales in comparison to Michelle Obama. Of course, the big question is, could she overshadow the president?...So, you know, there’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America, but how is her style and personality playing abroad? Well, the early reviews are very good. The apparent love affair with the U.S. first lady is flourishing in Europe.”
Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's "Hardball," admitted Barack Obama, along with his wife Michelle this time, gave him yet another "thrill." The MSNBC host gleefully described his feelings at seeing the Obamas arrive in England for the G20 summit this way [audio available here]:
Well there is something cool when they were both - there's a nice ‘60s term. When they were both walking to the helicopter the other day, Marine One, there was something like, when he looked at her, you could just tell he said, "Isn't this something?" You know you could tell like they were experiencing the-, the, I'm getting old here. The grooviness, the excitement of being this First American Couple heading towards Marine One, which is cool in itself, heading from there to Air Force One, to a quick flight across the Atlantic, on your own plane. And to meet with the world leaders as like the centerpiece of the world. What? I get-, I'm saying it again, I'm getting a thrill.
Matthews, who invited the Washington Post's Lois Romano and the Independent Women's Forum Michelle Bernard to join in on the Obama-watching fun, also giddily admitted: "We girls agree. I don't mind saying that. I'm excited. I'm thrilled. Any way I like it all! I like the picture, I like the substance. "
The following is the full exchange Matthews had with his panelists on the April 1, edition of "Hardball":