Michelle: Not My American Idol

by Susan Braun

 

Michelle Obama. She and I were born the same year. We both came of age in the ’70s, in the Midwest. She went to Ivy League Princeton; I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, albeit from the less tony Indiana University. We’re both moms of girls.

 

So why don’t I feel a sense of connection with her at all?

 

On a very basic level, politics play a role. My conservative views and her liberal ones will never meet. While she wrote her senior thesis on her feelings of inferiority as a black student at Princeton, I was working at the campus volunteer student bureau and playing piano for a local church.
She has clearly felt like a victim. I haven’t.

 

She was first proud of her country at the age of 44, because that’s when she sensed people were “ready for change”. I’ve been proud of my country ever since I can remember, even though I disagree strongly with the convictions of many in it.

 

She would like the federal government to provide universal healthcare. I think that’s a recipe for cripplingly-high taxes and a drop in service level.

 

She views weekends as “family time”, not to be interrupted by church services. I wouldn’t miss attending a worship service and Sunday School with mine.

 

She vigorously defends women’s right to abortion. I feel it’s important that my three daughters have all the rights we’re entitled to as Americans - both after AND before birth.

 

Despite our differences, Michelle and I agree on a few things.

 

We both are interested in raising our daughters to be the best people they can be.

 

We both would like to contribute all we can to this great nation.

 

It’s really not that complicated.

 

It’s the media I blame for the coverage of Michelle, so over-the-top that it’s alienating. She’s bringing romance back to the White House. She has the most lovely arms ever seen in first lady-dom. She’s sparkly and new. Come on!

 

goodellmom
04.01.09

I, too, value other points of view. But, I agree with others that some comments were taken out of context (the family time vs. attending church services...I couldn't find the quote w/in the article!). I think that the new administration is likened to driving on the same road for a long time and then turning onto a new road, in a new direction. Do we immediately arrive at our destination? No, we must continue our journey. While some expect immediate results from the Obamas, I am pleased at the [attempts towards] changes that have been made so far. And as a stay-at-home mom who recently returned to work, it pleases me to hear from our First Lady at the difficulties of balancing everything. I can relate! Do I need two dozen articles about her amazing arms? No! But, I enjoy hearing about her starting an organic garden with neighborhood children, making education a priority, being a visible presence & as an equal partner in her marriage, etc.

kdkully
04.01.09

I don't really understand the statement that "While she wrote her senior thesis on her feelings of inferiority as a black student at Princeton, I was working at the campus volunteer student bureau and playing piano for a local church. She has clearly felt like a victim. I haven’t." What does feeling like a victim (or not feeling like one) have to do with volunteering with the student bureau or playing the piano? Just wondering what the juxtaposition is that the author is trying to draw?

boymommy612
04.01.09

I could not agree with you more Susan!!!! Thanks for saying it so much better than I could have.

jadewey
04.01.09

It's nice to have a different perspective; thanks for sharing.

catfaber
04.01.09

A refreshing change for MT, thanks for the article! I agree that the coverage (both online and offline) on Michelle has been way over-the-top. I admire her accomplishments and can relate to her more than the author seems to (as a working Mom of a minority race), but enough about her arms already! Most of the praise heaped on the Obamas appears to be simply because they are NOT the Bushes. I know it's early, but what have they done, really, to deserve all the extra attention so soon? (Btw, I voted for Obama, so I am eagerly anticipating the "change" that has yet to come.)

And for the commenters who keep asking why the author thinks she's better than Michelle because she "volunteers and plays the piano... etc." The author is not saying she's better. She's just explaining how different she is from Michelle to show why she can't relate to her.

ladybugrenee
04.01.09

i LOVE this well-written article! it is SO refreshing to see a novel perspective. i was about to cancel my subscriptions to MT after the so blatant one-sided political support (which is NOT the promoted premise of this site).

i obviously don't know mrs. obama personally and don't feel i'm in a position to judge her. it appears she is a devoted mother. however, i do find it ridiculous that there is so much "news" over her arms, clothing, etc. i find it hideous that she actually made the "first time i've been proud of my country" comment. i am ferociously pro-life and as a public school teacher: pro-child. good thing, or else i wouldn't have given birth to my daughter a year ago. i often wonder why pro-abortionists don't consider/appreciate their OWN mothers' decision to have a baby?! i also find the constant focus and attention on her (and her husbands') race to be offensive. isn't THAT the very way to be racist? we should look at peoples hearts, minds, and actions. not their biceps or skin color.

thank you for this insight and well-written article! well done!

suburban cowgirl
03.31.09

Honey, it's like a radio show you don't like or agree with. Turn it off or change the channel! You let us know what a voracious reader you are, so why not read a book about coping with change or raising your acceptance level of people who aren't like...you. Michelle is not responsible for you thinking she's a role model. She's busy! Oh yeah, please try and make sure you're stating facts (she never said she missed church services for heavens sake!) since you call yourself a writer albeit not a news writer or unbiased journalist. Let's all love and support one another!

madtortuga
03.31.09

I only read MommyTrackd this week because of the article - I'd started to delete mailings wihout reading them after the "I Hate Sarah Palin" hooplah. As one who tends toward the politically conservative, I appreciate this author's perspective; however, I still wonder why MommyTrackd can't find a way to honor ALL working moms, without needing an "alternate viewpoint," as epitomized through both the introduction and the many "we'll agree to disagree" comments left in response. Whether you individually agree/disagree on a particular political issue, there are many things about both politically liberal and conservative women that we can agree to admire - their physical and inner beauty, their community involvement, their commitments to their families, their accomplishments, and more. Isn't that enough to celebrate?

my_name_is
03.31.09

I'm not sure whether Susan Braun or Mommy Track'd is to blame, but you alienate your audience when you use inflammatory points (weekends not to be interrupted by church services) and not only fail to support it in the linked article, but use the hyperlink to trick the reader into believing these are substantiated facts. I tried to research this point myself and a quick google search didn't turn up any smoking gun with such a quote. I was very eager to hear an alternative voice to the heavily liberal viewpoint of most blogs I read (my personal bent tends to narrow my media exposure), but this just left me with a bad taste in my mouth and reinforces that I should stick with the news I already agree with. At the risk of overstating this, I felt this article was a sad waste of an opportunity to bridge the political divide and foster diversity in our "mommy" community.

kateheart
03.31.09

M.O. positively rocks whatever her politics- an accomplished woman doing the best she can, and doing it with style and diligence. I don't think sharing her pespective on college life as a black woman in the Ivy League makes her a victim. This sounds like all the negative stuff we've heard all along applied to minorities with liberal politics: victim expecting special dispensation, socialist, not the right sort of Christian (although a church member), etc. These labels by those who don't agree with her husband's policies are to me a bit offensive. At least give another woman the courtesy of criticizing her with more than labels and for a single random comment about her pride in her citizenship and whom she is married to.