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Michelle Obama: Barack "will deign to enter" politics

I hate to quote Modo (ick) but she's got a good quote* in her column today:

[Michelle Obama] told a group gathered at a nursing home in Grinnell on Monday that “Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics.”

Come on. "Deign"?

Politics is how citizens make decisions in a democracy. "Deign" to enter that process? WTF?

I don't want someone who stands above the fray preaching "unity" and teh Bipartisan because he doesn't want to get down and dirty!

Now, I'm playing with fire even linking to that C-Span video, because Michelle Obama is just as good as everyone says she is.

But.

If you listen to the Obamas using your critical thinking skills, you'll notice two little words missing:

Why.

How.

When I listen to the Obamas, I feel like I've gone to a doctor who's diagnosed my symptoms accurately, but doesn't even have a concept of disease, and ends up "deigning" to prescribe little colored magic pills that don't have any real medicine in them. There's no why. And if there's no why, there's really no how.

The disease in the body politic is not "partisanship," any more than the fever in the body is the virus--the why--that causes the fever. The fever is a symptom, and so is "partisanship."

The disease--the why--in the body politic is 30 years of dominance by the the Conservative Movement, which runs the country for the economic benefit of the very, very rich. Programs like universal health care aren't happening, not because people of good will aren't sitting together round a table, but because they are actively being prevented by the Conservative Movement because it's not in their interest. You can't take this on with a message of "unity," because you can't beat something with nothing.

The cure for the body politic--the how--is not little colored magic awesome "unity" pills or a feel good message. The cure is stronger progressive institutions -- an immune system, if you will -- that can take on, fight back against, and beat the institutions that prevent progressive change. But there's nothing in the Obama message about that.

Obama has to make the ask.

If Obama wants progressive mandate, he's got to to ask for a progressive mandate.

Of course, a strategy of appealing to low information voters by using Republican talking points, and appealing to Republicans by not holding their party accountable might get enough non-Democrats into the Iowa caucuses to pick a Democratic nominee; smart strategy. Maybe just down and dirty enough. Of course, I don't know how Iowa Democrats are going to feel about having their nominee chosen for them, but maybe that's what "deign" boils down to, eh?

NOTE The quote's unsourced, so for awhile I was concerned that Modo was, well, making shit up again. But I listened to the C-Span video. (C-Span gets the location wrong; the video clearly shows a nursing home, and not the "Mayflower Hotel.") It's at 32:55.

To me, this quote is a story, but it's not covered the Des Moines Register, this coverage of the event from the Arkansas Times, this coverage from TNR, this (on DU, by an Obama supporter), this, by an Arkansas blogger, or this (on Big Orange, by a member of Obama's fan base).

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leah's picture
Submitted by leah on

I think you are on to something with that quote, but frankly, I'm willing to cut both Obamas a tiny bit of slack when it comes to word selection.

I agree that it does fit in with a criticism of Obama's campaign I share with you; please, Barack, spare us your above the fray disgust with politics, which, as I always love to repeat, is how we do business in a democracy, and even in a democratic republic.

On the other hand, Obama and his campaign have shown that they get the part about being elected because you get the most votes and that doing so requires many levels of political practice and skill. Let's remember that he's raised money with small donations, he's put together, from all reports, a good campaign staff and the kind of grassroots structure on the ground, in Iowa and elsewhere, you need to win.

Note how MoDo dismisses Edwards, even though her chief voter narrative is about an old traditional woman who moves from Obama to Edwards.

And where the hell does Dowd get off criticizing the Obamas for disliking politics; Dowd's scorn for candidates and the electorate are almost unmatched, or would be if there weren't so many Dowd-wannabes in our un-free press corps.

She loves going after Bush, but Dowd is right up there with the rest of the media elite, when it came to and continues to come to smearing Al Gore, Hillary...and by the way, that part of the column may require a separate post, if I can bear to do it.

So I'm glad you were able to find a second source for the quote, and everyone should read the column to remind themselves what we're up against.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

of the signs of the coming end times, and defend obama.

both of them, that is.

it's very, very hard to be what they are, and not have a certain sensibility about what they do in politics. gosh, this is actually hard to explain...it's probably not helpful to say, "it's a black thing." that's part of it, at least in my guess. that and the harvard/chicago thing; you can't find two places in america less snobby (albeit in their own, individually beloved ways).

the only point is that in the horse race, it's pointless to over-analyze words used by candidates' spouses. how is this relevant to...anything we really care about? it's not. i will (cackle) hang him/them for policy statements, but not over their vernacular use.

i got interrupted with a phone call, so this isn't as eloquent as i meant it to be. anyway- i will not get upset about anything either of them say that seems "snobby." ah, salience has returned: because that is a classic smear against the "high yellah." or, just another racial slur against a guy who isn't really progressive but still 'too black' as far as theocratic/corporate/racist america is concerned.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm still rushing, and it started out as a "Modo makes up shit" post and then I listened to the C-Span and should have just abandoned it. This the money quote, which I managed to bury:

When I listen to the Obamas, I feel like I’ve gone to a doctor who’s diagnosed my symptoms accurately, but doesn’t even have a concept of disease, and ends up “deigning” to prescribe little colored magic pills that don’t have any real medicine in them. There’s no why. And if there’s no why, there’s really no how.

The disease in the body politic is not “partisanship,” any more than the fever in the body is the virus—the why—that causes the fever. The fever is a symptom, and so is “partisanship.”

The disease—the why—in the body politic is 30 years of dominance by the the Conservative Movement, which runs the country for the economic benefit of the very, very rich. Programs like universal health care aren’t happening, not because people of good will aren’t sitting together round a table, but because they are actively being prevented by the Conservative Movement because it’s not in their interest. You can’t take this on with a message of “unity,” because you can’t beat something with nothing.

The cure for the body politic—the how—is not little colored magic awesome “unity” pills or a feel good message. The cure is stronger progressive institutions — an immune system, if you will — that can take on, fight back against, and beat the institutions that prevent progressive change. But there’s nothing in the Obama message about that.

Obama has to make the ask.

Little colored magic "unity" pills has been well-received...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by lambert on

I really connect "deign" to the "above the fray" attitude. Drives me nuts. But I see the "high yellah" connection. Well said.

Shit, why does America have to be so complicated?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

It is an interesting word choice to be sure. If he is so above the fray, then why bother. Why all of the HRC attacking? He seems mired into from my view.

Submitted by anonymous coward (not verified) on

Jay-Z made a song called “that ignorant sh*t”, in where he touched on a lot of pressing issues. Such as how America loves to watch the bad guy in movies and on television, but when the bad guy lives next door to you then it’s a problem. America makes no sense to me at times, we promote drugs, greed, sex, and violence and then wonder why we have the problems we do. Then on top of all that we allow people with money to break the law and get away with it too. Not only do we watch this go on, but we except this. Then you (America) get mad when the younger generation begins to get money by: selling drugs, making what you call “Gangster Rap” or by whatever means necessary. More then half of the people who actually live and do the things that is glorified by you (America), don’t want to do these things. One mistake that is commonly made by you (America) is that minorities want a hand out, when all we actually want is a chance. An equal chance, at the same success that every one else is offered. If you look at the different programs that come under the Cabinet’s of the United States you have: Education, Lobar, Housing and Urban Development to name a few, they were set up to help Americans. So for all these issues that we are having now we nee to go to the people in charge and do what we as United States citizens have a right to do and that is complain. Part of the reason why we are not getting the help to move forward is that, there has been a criteria set up that doesn’t allow the programs to assist the less fortunate. I think, no, I know America has lost sight of what this country is suppose to be about; opportunity is what I that it was. The Statute of Liberty says “give me your tired, wretched, and poor”. What happen to the hard work, sweat, blood, and tears of building a free world for future generations that this America was built on? We are steadily interfering with what’s going on overseas, when we need to look at our own problems. How can you help the next when your own is not ok? Slowly but surely we are becoming the same people we are fighting against. But this is “that ignorant sh*t” you love!