On Monday night, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech that became the talk of the Democratic National Convention. There’s only one problem: that speech will, in the end, actually hurt Democrats.
Partially, the speech became the talk of the convention because it was a rare unifying moment seized upon by the media to press forward Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But it also became the talk of the convention because of its rare focus on uplift.
Bernie Sanders spent the evening repeating discredited slogans that resulted in the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th century. Elizabeth Warren gesticulated like a loon in an insane asylum and rambled about banks.
But Michelle Obama paid homage to America.
Which is weird, given that Michelle Obama used to think America was a rather rotten place.
Back in 2008, Michelle told audiences, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country…not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”
Here was Michelle Obama last night: “don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.”
How things have changed.
So, what changed?
America’s economy has remained largely stagnant, thanks to inflationary Fed policy and regulatory strictures. The world is on fire from Syria to Ukraine to France to Germany to Orlando. Barack Obama’s policies have succeeded in minimizing American influence around the world, enriching those in close contact with government, cracking down on business, and destroying any sense of American progress. And Obama’s favored Black Lives Matter movement continues to push a myth about nasty evil cops while cops get shot in the streets.
But at least the feds now get to push same-sex marriage and transgenderism in the military.
What changed is that Michelle Obama now feels the necessity to defend her husband’s crappy legacy. That means that she has to make the case that America is a wonderful place. She did so by citing to racial progress (“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”) to which her husband pays lip service but which he also continually undermines. But the notion that America is a happy-dappy-do place right now simply won’t fly in this election cycle. The media spent last weekend complaining that Donald Trump’s RNC speech was insufficiently optimistic – it was too “dark” – but Trump expressed worries most Americans feel. Democrats refuse to do so, because they have to pretend that Barack Obama did a good job as president.
Right now, in other words, Michelle Obama and President Obama are a buoy. But if Democrats begin whistling past the graveyard of world politics in order to defend their man, the Obamas will end up being an anchor.