My oldest daughter, who is as apolitical as they come, texted me a video link to comments she liked by Michelle Obama during a REVOLT interview just before Christmas where she talked about her dad. After the link, she texted: “Thought about you. Thanks dd. Love you!”
I deeply cherish my daughter’s sentiment, but I’m not a Michelle Obama fan. My gut reaction was to protect what little brain matter I have left by not listening to Michelle’s deadening “I’m a little girl from the South Side of Chicago” script that she’s now rehearsed to a muscle memory.
Thanks largely to her dad, who died from multiple sclerosis in his 50s, Michelle lived in solidly middle-class neighborhoods fairly early in her life where she attended a magnate school, practiced piano and dance, eventually went to Princeton, and graduated with a law degree from Harvard University.
Good for her.
But unfortunately, those are not the credentials that get you the applause from an authoritarian black political culture that demands “black protest to be built in each black person’s sense of self,” as Shelby Steele once put it.
So to fall in line with the black protest culture – to be “authentically black” – Michelle must always be inauthentic in public to the life she’s actually lived.
Barack learned that the hard way. During a 2007 Father’s Day speech while campaigning at a black church, Senator Obama committed the cardinal sin of telling the truth, in public.
“We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception,” said Obama, who’s own father was never in his life. Too many fathers are “missing from too many lives in too many homes.”
Jesse Jackson, whose biological father was never in his life, was infuriated.
“I wanna cut his nuts out,” the reverend whispered in a hot mic to Fox’s Farai Chideya after the speech. “Barack’s been talking down to black people,” he complained.
To this day, with no office to run for, Barack’s been obedient ever since. When it comes to ideas that could transform the outcomes of lagging blacks, no more truth-telling.
No matter how many thousands of blacks are murdered by other blacks, how many trillions are wasted on perpetuating a culture of poverty, or how much has gotten worse despite the fact that blacks are in so many commercials – the problem, they say, is miscellaneous “white folks” oppressing blacks in a systemically racist society.
“Many of us [blacks] still live in fear as we go to the grocery store …” Michelle told Gayle King last year. “Like so many parents of black kids … the innocent act of getting a [driver’s] license puts fear in our hearts … I mean, all those Black Lives Matter kids, they’d rather not have to worry about this.”
This is a lie.
For the Obamas, simple common sense has become excruciatingly difficult and costly in an era that so richly rewards outright lies. They’ve become, as Steele described, “bound” – abject slaves to a tyrannical brand of racial politics that thrives on ridiculous grievances, such as the subtle bigotry of milk and math.
That’s been my beef with these two. No two people in all of American history had more power to bookend the extraordinary story of blacks moving from abject slavery to occupying what was once Earth’s most powerful office … twice. And no two people have botched it more.
But cringingly, I clicked on Michelle’s video – for no other reason than to get the message my daughter wanted me to hear.
I’m glad I did.
The moment that brought Michelle to tears, for once, seemed very authentic. Despite his flaws, she sketched the picture of a man with colorblind attributes that are the exact opposite of the ones she so loudly advocates for in public.
“When I think about what my dad, as a black man with M.S., could’ve done; he could have never worked a day in his life,” she told the panel, “he could have collected benefits; he could have succumbed to his disease and be depressed about it, but he didn’t.”
And this is where she got choked up.
“He never felt sorry for himself, he never expected others to do for him, and just the sheer act of him getting up every day and going to work was a statement that – ugh, now I’m going to cry – that stays with me every day of my life.”
Nothing that Michelle Obama is best known for (lawyer, First Lady, best-selling author, rich, immensely influential), she said, compares to the intangible lessons she learned from her dad.
“… he is not here to see any of it, and so much because of him. … What my dad did was beyond money, title, influence, nothing. I would trade it all for what my father provided us in that little bitty apartment on 74th and Euclid.”
Why hasn’t this been Michelle’s public message to black audiences in lagging communities – especially to young black men? Using her own words, these are the lessons she deemed to be more valuable than “money, title, influence”:
Never stop working to provide for your family.
Never depend on welfare benefits.
Never allow circumstances beyond your control to get you so depressed that you give up.
Never feel sorry for yourself.
Never expect others to do for you what you alone must do for yourself.
Never let people, groups, circumstances, misfortune, friends or enemies keep you from getting up and going for your dreams and goals every, single day of your life.
Never forget that these intangible attitudes are so valuable that they should never be traded for money, fame, titles, or influence.
Never forget that it is never so much what you say that sticks with your children, but how you live your life.
Through endless government programs, endless racial grievances, and endless “compassion” for an endless line of imaginary victims, the Obamas have spent their political lives advocating for ideals that are antithetical to the ones her own dad practiced.
Those ideals are what resonated with my daughter. It wasn’t a rehearsed political speech pushing government programs that moved her to share Michelle Obama’s video. It was a rare moment of unscripted honesty conveyed so authentically that it spoke to the way she sees her own dad.
It was the truth.
“Thought about you. Thanks dd. Love you!”
I get it.