Genii Weblog

Michelle Obama gave a wonderful speech

Mon 25 Aug 2008, 11:20 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
I am starting to understand that some of my readers will only hear a snake oil saleswoman, or will shout angry talking points about... actually, I'm not yet sure about what.  I hope that I remain open minded when I hear Cindy McCain or whomever the Republicans have at their convention, as I would hate to slide into the knee jerk divisions that seem to haunt America today.  So, acknowledging that it is only my perspective, and that perhaps I am being duped by a nefarious, slick and evil woman disguised as a loving, intelligent wife and mother (who happens to be brilliant and successful and dedicated in her own right), I thought Michelle Obama was absolutely amazing in her convention speech last night.  There is no doubt that her daughters have two rhetorical masters as parents, but they also have decent, loving, well-meaning parents.  It is also wonderful that two people can bring themselves up from humble beginnings to reach for the American dream... and pause in that journey to choose public service over private gain.  It was a phenomenal speech given by an amazing woman.  Thank you, Michelle Obama.

Note: while I never remove comments from posts regarding business, I reserve the right to remove comments that do little more than spew venom.  Decide I am a shill or dupe or fraud... whatever.  This especially goes for those comment trolls who persist in altering names (e.g., McShame or Obama bin Lying)

Copyright 2008 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

704.1. David Bailey
(08/26/2008 05:36 AM)

Thanks, Ben. I missed the speech. I'll google it.

704.2. Nathan T. Freeman
(08/26/2008 05:39 AM)

I have no specific issues with candidates on either side, but Ben, this characterization seems romanticized to the point of wishful thinking...

"...choose public service over private gain."

Servicing in the US Senate, and more so as President, creates plenty of opportunities for enormous personal financial gain. And while you serve, you aren't exactly stuck living in a two-room clapboard shack.

That's not to question anyone's motives, mind you. Just to say that you propose a false dichotomy. I can't think of a pursuit more likely to grant long-term wealth, fame and success than the office of the President of the United States.

704.3. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 05:39 AM)

@David - Please do. You won't be sorry. Probably better to watch the video than read, if nothing else than for the daughters at the end, who are very sweet (OK, I'm a sucker for kids).

704.4. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 05:44 AM)

@Nathan - Actually, I meant earlier than that. Both gave up jobs in a prestigious law farm to work with the community and disadvantaged. Only later on did Barack go into state politics, but he wasn't gunning for President then. It is certainly fair to say that once he was elected to the U.S. Senate, it became a much less clear cut "public service over private gain", but in his earlier career, and in Michelle's, they both gave up consideral opportunity to work for the public good.

704.5. Craig Wiseman
(08/26/2008 06:08 AM)

Indeed, she gave an excellent speech. Seriously.

The issue for me with ALL these speeches (from her, Mr. Obama, Mr. Biden, Mrs. McCain, Mr. McCain, Mr. UnnamedVP) is that they are ALL crafted to influence, not from the heart. They are 150% political and have been vetted by all the right people to have just the correct impact. The tell us nothing .at all. about the person, their real views, or what they'd do if they (or their spouse) were elected.

I guess that's why I'm a registered independent.

So if all the photo ops, speeches, etc. are worth nothing, what do I use to decide on a candidate?

Past actions. History accrued over time.

And that's where Obama comes up a bit...short. Like country mile short.

After being screwed by Bush in 2000, I think that McCain realized what he would have to do in order to get the nomination and made the cynical political decision to do what it took. Yes, he has run way to the right, but, in the end, though, I think that McCain will govern like he has legislated, as a centrist maverick. I view his time getting the nomination as similar to his time in prison - you do what the captors want, and maybe, eventually, you'll get out.

I don't think you're being a shill, but I do think you're putting a lot of hope into an unmarked basket, and I think with the world as it is, the deficit as it is, the economy as it is, we can't afford to hope it turns out OK.

We've had 8 years of the worst president in the history of the republic, I really can't bet the future on what Mr Obama .might. do.

Especially when we've got someone else who is pretty close to what you'd want. I mean, Kerry seriously considered McCain as a VP choice.

"I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts."

- John Locke, (1632 - 1704)

704.6. Craig Wiseman
(08/26/2008 06:12 AM)

OK. Pet Peeve here (not that you've violated it), but can we PLEASE call them by their last names? Maybe with Mr. & Mrs.?

Do we personally party with them? No? then








704.7. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 06:34 AM)

@Craig - I tend to disagree about "unproven" and "unmarked basket", but I understand different people feel differently about these qualifications. I have never really liked John McCain all that much, regardless of what John Kerry thought, although I do respect his early work on campaign reform. Most of all, I have had trouble with McCain's military aggressiveness, which has been evident for decades. Perhaps that is one understandable reaction to spending time as a POW, or perhaps it is simply his approach to the world, but I don't agree with it.

As for the name, I agree to a degree. I think the tendancy to refer to "Barack" or "Hillary" or, even worse, "W" for George Bush, is probably a bad habit that tends to be part of the general disrespect, although I am sure I do it myself. I would disagree that using the full name is so objectionable, both because it is easier to distinguish between "Michelle Obama" and "Barack Obama", or "Cindy McCain" and "John McCain", and because it is traditional to refer to people as they refer to themselves. Nate that in your comment, you said "John Locke" even though you don't party with him. Also, I would correct the titles, since it should be "Sen. Obama" and "Sen. McCain" and any of "Mrs. Obama", "Ms. Obama" or "Dr. Obama" (she has a doctorate). Since I don't know which she prefers, since I don't party wth her, I follow her lead and refer to her as "Michelle Obama", just as I referred to "Jimmy Carter" since that is what he preferred. If I were to address her in person, I would probably call her "Mrs. Obama", but if I had had the opportunity to address John Locke, I would likely have referred to him as "Mr. Locke".

I personally hope someday to be able to address Barack Obama as "Mr. President".

704.8. Craig Wiseman
(08/26/2008 06:42 AM)

Let's agree ... to agree, at least on naming.

I'm fine with "Michelle Obama" or "John McCain".

It's just the false personalizing and warmy, swarmy feeling of calling them "John" or "Michelle" that icks me.

They are politicans, not friends.

704.9. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 06:43 AM)

@Craig - On that, we can certainly agree.

704.10. Jerry Carter
(08/26/2008 07:44 AM)

I had a strange dream I was sitting at a convention, and Mr. Obama sat down next to me. My daughter asked "who's this?" and I said, "possibly our next president.", to which he smiled warmly, shaking my hand and not letting go. "Obama, or Mr. Obama - I get that confused, your last name sounds like a first name, you know...", he smiled congenially. "I wish you the best of luck." "Well, thank you, I appreciate that", he replied. I added, "but I'm voting for McCain. I just don't know what you stand for." His smile faded. He said nothing. I turned to my daughter, she looked back at me, and I noticed the warm hand shake had ended and he had slipped away without comment.

704.11. Axel
(26.08.2008 09:52)

I liked the speech.

For me its a question of not letting the knowledge of the dark side of politics inhibit to enjoy a good speech if its well good. There is plenty to bitch about, but at least we have democracies and thats a lot better then dictatorship or something in between like Mucho Macho of Hugoslawia.

Am none of those european Obama freaks presented on that Republicans spot about germans with "communist friends in America".

From my remote perspective the agenda of Obama appears pretty predictable:

- more pressure on european allies to share burden for common security.

- more hardball in trade talks.

- less believe that an possibly underregulated financial market will cure itself only if you push more public money into it.

- less tax burden on poor people and more for the richer people.

- An American President can never govern against the Federal Reserve or the business community (for good reason)

704.12. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 12:42 PM)

@Chris - You are partly correct. Michelle Obama actually gave up her existing job at a prestigious law firm. Barack Obama merely refused two job offers at the two law firms where he had interned, Sidley & Austin and Hopkins & Sutter, to do public service. Yes, he led Project Vote, an enormously succssful voter registration drive, which was the basis for much of his later popularity. So, I didn't describe it exactly correctly, but would you minimize five years of public service before law school followed by Project Vote, followed by work on a number of different public service organizations (with varying degrees of "public service", I imagine)?

704.13. Chris Whisonant
(08/26/2008 01:23 PM)

To quote myself - "I'm not discounting his activism - just letting you know that your assessment of it is a little backwards."

I'm not minimizing it (as you have implied that I'm doing even AFTER I said I wasn't!! if only you were as skeptical of the words of politicians as you are of my words...) - just clarifying it. You said that the Senator gave up jobs to do service. When, in reality, he gave up service to go to school to get a job as a lawyer. At which point he later took up more public service while still getting his lawyer salary.

704.14. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 01:54 PM)

@Chris - Breathe! He did public service for 5 years. He went to law school. He was offered jobs. He refused them (gave them up) to do public service and write a book. He did public service, in a very public, well acknowledged effort (not saying for your sake, but because there are some who discount every bit of what he did). He then got another job, different than those first. He continued to to public service parallel to teaching and having the job. From there, he was elected to the state Senate, etc. etc.

Ergo, he gave up on job offers to do public service. Yes, after that, he got another job as a lawyer, but my original point stands (as amended above) that both he and Michelle Obama took paused for public service. Not to mention the additional fact that work in the state Senate is hardly the path to fame and prosperity for many, and again counts as leaving a prestigious law firm to enter public service.

Saying "I'm not discounting his activism" and then doing so does not make it all better. Perhaps if you had less instinctive desire to disbelieve somebody who happens to be liberal, it would be easier to discuss this with you. There are good, solid conservative people who work hard and dedicate their lives to the public good. There are also good, solid liberal people who work hard and dedicate their lives to the public good. We all should skip on the immediate assumption that every politician is a crook, and double for whichever party we don't like. It is no more true than that every software developer is a crook, although we could all point to some who are, or that every reporter is dishonest, although we all know some who are.

Aside from the political talking points, do you really think that if Barack Obama had exactly the same credentials but was a pro-corporate anti-tax conservative in the Republican party, you would still be raising the same objections?

Look how many people derided John Kerry for his elitism as proved by a lifestyle financed by his wife's money. Many of those same people are now supporting John McCain and defending the exact same situation, and they all have terribly important distinctions to draw, but are they convincing to you? Have you really drunk the Kool Aid that completely?

I imagine you are offended by what I say. So, do this. Look at your comment, and then look at the last line: I just hope the teleprompters are working for Senator Obama when he speaks - he seems to struggle with staying on target when there's not a teleprompter.

If you replaced that Senator Obama with Senator McCain, would it be any less true? Certainly not according to the many occasions we have seen recently. So, why did you say it? The only conclusion I can come to is that it is a cheap dimunition of Senator Obama's ability and sincerity, since it would not be relevant to the conversation otherwise. Does that explain why I reject the plea "I'm not minimizing it" and that you are "only clarifying"? I am a bit tired of people "clarifying" by simply trying to spin things again to make an honorable, decent person look worse, whether that is John McCain or Barack Obama. Both deserve more respect than that.

704.15. Chris Whisonant
(08/26/2008 04:29 PM)

See now this is the funny thing. Immediately when you see that I'm making some kind of stance against someone who I believe is unfit to be President, I am accused of being hot-headed (telling me to BREATHE), minimizing some of the things he has done, drinking the Kool Aid, cheap, diminutive, dishonoring, etc...

I have yet to say one negative thing about you, personally. I merely correct the facts as you presented them. Yet you come out and attack my character?

Last night, Michelle Obama said "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them."

So what does her husband do to respect those with whom he disagrees? He says that McCain's policies are undeserving of respect! Where's the new Washington that Obama is promising? Seems like the same old same old to me. Both Senators are coming out with negative ads.

704.16. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/26/2008 05:27 PM)

@Chris - I have yet to say anything negative about you, except to critique what I perceived as a cheap shot. In any case, I am through, since I do not sense that this is argument either possible to win (for either of us) or worth arguing (for either of us).

704.17. Chris Reckling
(08/26/2008 05:57 PM)

Ben - I think your original headline still stands - it was a wonderful speech.


704.18. Richard Shergold
(08/28/2008 12:57 AM)

@Ben - oh, I was enjoying that. Makes a change from Rich Text....