Boosting Barack: Yeah, They Built That.

Game recognizes Game.

Going into their convention, Democrats had a disadvantage the Republicans did not.   The GOP base is fired up to vote against Obama.  The Democrats need to get theirs fired up to vote for Obama.    The advantage Democrats have  is it is easier to get people to vote for someone than against them.   But too much of the Democratic base hasn’t been engaged thus far in the president’s reelection and that could imperil it.

Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton delivered show-stopping speeches to set it up for  President Obama to make the case  he deserves four more years.   The speculation was which Clinton would show up in Charlotte.  Would it be Bad Bill looking to stick a shiv in the back of the guy who blocked his wife’s bid for his old job or Good Bill rallying the faithful to help Obama join him and Harry Truman as the only  Democratic incumbents to win a second term since FDR?

It  took 48 minutes for him to say it,  but Clinton left no doubt he’s all in with Team Obama and squash any speculation he wasn’t.   Obama and Clinton have had a prickly relationship, but with his ringing endorsement of the embattled president and shredding of the Republicans,  Clinton is poised to become a significant asset to Obama’s campaign.

Michelle Obama’s job was tougher than the one Clinton had.  He had to say the things about the opposition in the way a former president can that a current one can’t.   Bill had to draw the distinctions between Obama and the Republicans.   Michelle had to reach out to disillusioned and disappointed Democrats to remind them, yes, there is are good reasons to show up and vote for her husband.

The Big Dog and the First Mom share a moment.

More than a few amateur psychologists such as D’nesh D’Souza have attempted to put the president on the couch trying to figure out why he hates America so much.  He doesn’t, but they are too full of hate for him to realize it.   With the First Lady, they can’t question her “Americaness” so they hit on her as being “angry.”   The go-to move for right-wingers too lazy or too stupid (or both) to understand the Obamas is to write him off as uppity and her as angry.

Stereotyping Michelle is a way to minimize her intellect and beauty.  She has been hammered by her critics as snobbish, materialistic, bossy and nosing into the dietary habits of American’s children.   It’s amazing how low they will go not to take Michelle seriously.   She has more grace, charm and smarts in one finger than most of the haters do in their entire flabby bodies.

She is also thought of as being the true liberal in the marriage or at least more than her husband.  That’s a sentiment shared by Salon’s Joan Walsh:

 There are Democrats who believe Michelle Obama carries the torch for liberalism, and reminds her husband what he came to Washington to do, when his Beltway advisers may be telling him something different. Tuesday night she spoke to those Democrats, who may not be as enthusiastic or optimistic as they were in 2008. She told them she loves her husband even more than she did four years ago, because of all that he’s done for the country – and maybe helped them to love him a little more, too.

All the professional and amateur “fact-checkers” will comb through every last word of their speeches looking for exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies of a Paul Ryan level, but a fact is not the same as the truth and what Michelle Obama  said about character and what Bill Clinton said about the economy Obama inherited was the gospel truth.

The First Lady said, “I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.”

President Clinton said“President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.

Today is the last night of the Democratic National Convention with Joe Biden and Obama himself ringing down the curtain with perhaps the two most important speeches of their political lives.  What they say doesn’t have to be as good as what Bill and Michelle said,  but it would go a long ways to waking up the base if it’s every bit as good

If the Democrats don’t come out of their convention energized and mobilized to send Mitt back to one of his six homes it won’t be because the Big Dog and the First Lady didn’t do their part.

Motivation?  Yeah.  They built that.

The First Lady killed in Charlotte.

Is It True What They Say About The Obamas?

The Obamas: a success story that's still being puzzled over.

Washington isn’t just the seat of power in America, it’s also the world’s biggest fishbowl and there is no bigger fish than the President and his First Lady.   So when New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor focused her attention on Michelle Obama and her frustrations in her role as the second billed star in a history making accomplishment, she ruffled some feelings within the White House.

How much weight you give to the accuracy of this book has to go back to how much trust you have in the Bob Woodward style of writing books about people based upon second and third hand sources.   My take as a journalist is I take these kind of gossipy, unsubstantiated stories with a certain degree of wariness. I won’t go so far as to say the author got the story wrong, but she’s trying to sell a book and she needs a hook to separate hers from the many others already written about the Obamas. If she found one nobody else did, good for her. I know how the sausage gets made so I’m not as wowed.

Kantor said: “I interviewed 33 White House staffers, most of them many times. I wouldn’t trade that for a quick interview with the president, because I’m not sure he’s at liberty to discuss the real questions I asked in this book. In a way, it goes to Barack Obama’s own predicament as president: He’s such a gifted storyteller. Yet can he really tell his own story anymore?”

The White House response: ‘This is the author’s take, reflecting her own opinions, on a remarkably strong relationship the President and First Lady – both of whom share an unwavering commitment to each other, and to improving the lives of Americans. The book, an overdramatization of old news, is about a relationship between two people whom the author has not spoken to in years. The author last interviewed the Obamas in 2009 for a magazine piece, and did not interview them for this book. The emotions, thoughts and private moments described in the book, though often seemingly ascribed to the President and First Lady, reflect little more than the author’s own thoughts. These second-hand accounts are staples of every Administration in modern political history and often exaggerated.”

Decide for yourself who’s got more to lose or gain here: The White House trying to put the best face on the Obama’s marriage or an author with a book to sell?

I listened to Kantor on NPR’s Fresh Air program today and I came away with a totally different impression of her and the book than I had previously.   She clearly feels warmly toward the Obamas, particularly Michelle.   She said at one point despite the sensationalism of some reports, Michelle doesn’t hate Rahm Emanuel.   What was going on is the natural friction between the First Lady’s staff in the East Wing and the President’s staff in the West Wing.

Anybody know how many people are responsible for the president’s schedule?  Two?  Ten?  Try 33 on the scheduling staff.  Now balance that against Michelle wondering if the president isn’t being over-scheduled or will he be able to attend a school function for his daughters?

A hatchet job on the First Lady?

Michelle Obama had to grow into her role as The First Lady as much as her husband has had to grow into hers.   It’s been more difficult than she expected, but she’s risen to the challenge.  So has her husband for whom her support is absolute, total and unshakable.

It’s doubtful I’ll pay to read The Obamas but if I saw a copy at the library, it’s probably worth checking out.

ADDENDUM:  But don’t give Mrs. Obama a copy as a birthday present.  You might get it flung back at you faster than you hand it over.

Speaking to Oprah gal pal Gayle King on the CBS Morning News, the First Lady made it clear she did not approve of Kantor putting his business on the street.

“I never read these books, so I’ve just gotten in the habit of not reading other people’s impressions of people.”

“I guess it’s just more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here,” she said. “That’s been an image people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I’m some kind of angry black woman.”

Maybe Michelle isn’t an angry Black woman, but she isn’t remotely happy with Kantorr trying to climb in her head.

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