Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Michelle Obama's Unintentionally Revealing Speech
The headliner at last night's DNC was First Lady Michelle Obama.
Her speech was a well rehearsed attempt to match Ann Romney's speech at the Republican convention and emphasize a kinder, gentler Barack Obama who understands the struggles ordinary Americans go through because they both were "raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves."
She spoke about the hard times they had as a couple, when Barack Obama took her out on dates in a car that was rusted out, and how his proudest possession was a coffee table he found in a dumpster.
And she talked about how “Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.”
Of course, to anyone who knows anything about the Obamas and their background, that part of the speech was sheer smoke and mirrors, however well delivered.
Both Obamas, in fact, started out with what most of us would call a real boost up the ladder.
Barack Obama's grandparents didn't 'step in to help' when Stanley Anne Dunham was struggling to pay the bills to raise him. The truth of the matter is that she essentially abandoned him with his typical white grandparents while she went off to seek her bliss in places like Indonesia and barely raised him at all in the usual sense of the word for most of his childhood.
Nor was the young Barack Obama exactly raised in poverty. His grandmother worked as a bank president and made enough of a decent salary not only to support her grandchild and his grandpa, who worked sporadically, but to put Barack Obama through Punahou Academy, one of the most expensive and exclusive private prep schools not only in Hawaii but in the United States.
Michelle Obama's family was hardly downtrodden either. Her father had a relatively decent paying job with the City of Chicago and was a well connected ward leader for Chicago's ruling Democratic party, with all that entails - Michelle used to babysit as a teenager for Jesse Jackson - and she was jumped ahead of the line in order to get into Whitney Young, a public magnet school that caters to Chicago's upper strata.
Which of course is how these things normally work in Chicago. You work for the party at election time, and in exchange you get certain benefits and quid pro quos.
Both Obamas went to exclusive private schools. In Barack's case, he started out at Occidental, a private and by no means inexpensive liberal arts school in Los Angeles. From there, he apparently went to Columbia, although no one who was there at the time seems to remember him and we've never seen any transcripts.
After that, with the aid of Malcolm X's lawyer Percy Sutton and ex-Black Panther member Don Warden AKA Khalid Al-Mansour, he got into Harvard Law School.
In Michelle Obama's case, she was able to get into Princeton and later attended Harvard Law School as well.
When she and Barack Obama met, they were both lawyers working at Sidley Austin, an influential and high level law firm in Chicago, and both were making decent salaries. In fact, they were doing well enough that after they married, they were able to purchase a then pricey $277,500 two-bedroom condo in a good neighborhood in Chicago in 1993.
Aside from the Obama's salaries, they also enjoyed income from the advances and royalties on the sales of Barack Obama's books, and you might recall Michelle Obama admitting in a speech in 2008 that the proceeds from 'Dreams of my Father' effectively retired any student loans they had outstanding.
As Barack Obama entered politics and got elected to the Illinois State Legislature, things got even better. Michelle Obama's law license was revoked by the Illinois State Bar for reasons that have yet to be disclosed, but State Senator Barack Obama and Michelle's own Chicago connections enabled her to get what amounted to a cushy no-show job at a salary of $121,910 as 'Vice President in Charge of Community Relations' with Chicago University Hospital.
That salary leapfrogged to $316,962 for the same job when Barack Obama became a senator in 2005, and just coincidentally, one of Senator Obama's first acts in office was to see to it that the hospital received over a million dollars of your tax dollars as an earmark.
Michelle Obama moved on to the White House after almost a year on leave at full salary so she could campaign , and that vital job of hers,worth a salary of over $300 K was quietly eliminated.
As the Obamas became more prosperous, they also decided to upgrade their residence. Somehow, with the help of Tony Rezco and some arrangements that mysteriously coincided with building permits obtained for what turned out to be substandard housing projects put up by Rezco and Saddam Hussein's bagman Nadhni Auchi, the Obamas succeeded in buying their Hyde Park Mansion in Chicago for $300,000 less than the $1.95 million asking price, right at the height of the real estate boom in 2006, something more than a little bit unusual in a seller's market with prices on the rise.
My point here is not to be excessively mean spirited, but to point out that when Michelle Obama talks about hard times, hard work and responsibility, her reality of what those words mean is quite different from most Americans.
Unlike Mitt Romney, who created prosperity for others besides himself, Barack Obama went into politics to do good and both he and Michelle Obama ended up doing pretty well for themselves on the public's dime. And if you recall the lavish lifestyle and five star vacations the Obamas have pursued in the White House while millions of Americans are struggling financially, they still are.
Michelle Obama's speech went over well with the Obama media and the folks at the convention, but given the Obamas well documented past, will it resonate well with the bitter clingers in flyover country as people recall the last four years?
Somehow I don't think so.