She hit it out of the park, no question -- and to add insult to injury, it followed almost the exact same template as Ann Romney's speech: she told us why she loves her husband, about their early struggles and how the shared values that were bequeathed to them by their families reflect all that's best in America.
Before the networks started broadcasting the convention, my wife and I watched the last half hour of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House on one of the movie channels. Mr. Blandings is an ad man. When he can't think up a new slogan for his agency's top client, Gussie, the Aunt Jemimah-esque family maid, saves the day. "If you ain't eatin' Wham, You Ain't Eatin' Ham," she serendipitously exclaims, as she serves the Blandings' teenaged daughers (they are about same age as Sasha and Malia, as it happens) their breakfast ham and eggs. Mr. Blandings is so grateful for her million dollar turn of phrase that he tells his wife to give her a ten dollar raise.
Watching the supremely poised and articulate Michelle Obama deliver her speech a few minutes later, I was struck by the thought that Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was released in 1948, less than ten years before I was born in Washington, D.C., a city where Jim Crow laws were still in effect. Michelle Obama was born in 1964, the year before the Voting Rights Act was passed. When my family moved to New Jersey in 1962, the people whose house my parents bought were so desperate to sell (they'd already moved to a bigger house one town over when their first deal fell through) that they broke the covenant against selling to Jews. Not that I'm any kind of ethnic pioneer -- but it's worth remembering that the no-doubt devoutly patriotic developers who built the subdivision I grew up in thought that keeping it Gentile-only would help preserve property values.
As thrilling as it was for me to watch Michelle Obama Tuesday night, I can imagine how threatening she might have seemed to others. Not only does she, a black woman, live in the White House -- she comports herself as though she belongs there; she even presumes to speak for all Americans, to embody a nation's hopes and dreams. Not to mention that she is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law.
As the author of The New Hate, I couldn't but brace myself for the inevitable backlash.
I didn't have to look hard to find it. Here are some of the comments on Ann Althouse's blog (Althouse doesn't lower herself to expressing any racist sentiment; she is merely bemused and mildly offended by the "inappropriateness" of the first lady's "misplaced emotionality" -- her presumption that her family "now has a special privilege to identify dreams that they have and expect the world to fulfill them").
Some of Althouse's commenters, however, are nowhere near as politic.
Shouting Thomas notes the fallacy that, "The problems of blacks are supposed to all be traceable to the fact that some people (i.e., racists) think bad thoughts and say bad things about them. The problems of black people, thus, cannot be solved until everybody thinks nice things and says nice things about black people.Black people can't be asked to suck it up and take their lumps like everybody else. If a single white person dislikes a single black person, the entire black community will crumble into dysfunction."
"This woman is a fraud," says someone with the handle Right is Right!. "Her husband is a bigger fraud. The Republican convention looked like America these people look like a welfare line. The choice facing this country is as simple as black and white." As simple as black and white. Yes, that's what they really wrote.
Her "speech had a racist subtext," SomeoneHastoSayIt has to say. "She wants us to help her family's dreams come true. Why her family? Because they're Black. We owe them. Historical guilt and all that. Ridiculous."
And the commenters on this blog, I might add, are very far cry from Storm Front.