Monday, February 4, 2008

Michelle Obama: A Policy Lite Meassage

Presidential candidate Barack Obama leans on his wife in many ways — for support, for advice, for grounding and increasingly for her fighting words. In an increasingly nasty race that seems to pit the Illinois Senator against not just a former First Lady but her ex-President husband as well, Obama needs Michelle more than ever.

Now, for the first time since Barack Obama launched his campaign 11 months ago, Michelle Obama has left the couple's two young girls at home with her mother and hit the campaign trail full-time. While she's no Bill Clinton, Obama does have sharp elbows. One of her more pointed remarks is about how "things have gotten continually worse over my lifetime," implying the Clinton era did little to help "regular folks" like her and her family. And in a forcefully worded fund-raising letter sent out in the middle of January, she says, "What we didn't expect, at least not from our fellow Democrats, are the win-at-all-costs tactics we've seen recently. We didn't expect misleading accusations that willfully distort Barack's record... We've seen disingenuous attacks and smear tactics turn people off from the political process for too long, and enough is enough."

Michelle Obama's conventional south-side Chicago working-class background contrasts with her husband's childhood, growing up between Hawaii and Indonesia, to which few of his supporters can relate. Where Barack Obama's speeches are all about soaring rhetoric, with very few mentions of his personal upbringing, his wife focuses on her childhood, telling her story from the ground up. "You think of my parents who didn't go to college, who sent not one but two of us to Princeton, my brother and I," she told the 200 or so students that came to hear her speak. "And the one thing that is clear to me as I've traveled the country is the story of my father is the story of America, I don't care what color what folks are, I don't care if they grew up on a farm or in the inner city."

Michelle doesn't credit Obama with lifting her up. She is clear she did it on her own, but stresses that he is what the country needs to get back to a time when people like her had the opportunity to rise — a time, she said, that has not existed since her childhood. "You know every time somebody told me, 'No, you can't do that,' I pushed past the their doubts and I took my seat at the table," she told the group of students at Bennett College in South Carolina during one of her own rally speeches.

From her shy, awkward first months in a role that she talks frankly about not wanting, Michelle Obama is finding her voice. And her husband will need it. If he was exhausted in New Hampshire, they have 22 states coming up on February 5th that could well determine the nominee. Find out more about the Obama campaign at:

Research info gathered at:

Now here's one of my poems that you'd never find on the ballot:

Or Dreaming In A Coat Room

Not to forget the way back-

that path etched along a faraway wash of sequoias
in an ellipse then slipped between two seasons,
or in a configuration posing as a trail of wet leaves
and pine cones that wish they weren't so useless,
or entwined in a hedge that twists itself through the
rust-gray of reason in a dream only sleepers believe,
arriving at the wide brown of a dying field using a
plow to drag aqueous spirits inside.

All of this could easily be part of the persuasion.

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Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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