Hypocrisy Follies: The Ribbing of the First Lady

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Americans are becoming almost as confused about hypocrisy as they are about satire.

Michelle Obama’s Vail, Colorado vacation included taking her daughters out to eat ribs at Vail, and conservative radio critics immediately resorted the “H” word, led by Rush Limbaugh, who reported that the First Lady, fully-involved in an anti-obesity campaign, joined her own children in “feasting on ribs — ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat, per serving.”

As is his way, “El Rushbo” then went out of his way to infuriate Michelle fans by stirring the pot to a lively boil. “Dare I say,” said Limbaugh, “it doesn’t look like the first lady follows her own dietary advice….I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.”

This immediately, as Limbaugh surely intended, set off a volley of return fire by Michelle’s defenders, who argued that it was Limbaugh who was the hypocrite, accusing Michelle of being less than svelte when his own girth fluctuates between enormous and  pleasingly plump, and that he was wrong on the facts, since the particular rib dish the First Kiddies shared wasn’t particularly caloric at all.

Who was right? Nobody.

  • There is nothing hypocritical about an anti-obesity crusader pigging out on a vacation. One meal doesn’t establish a pattern or an unhealthy lifestyle. If Michelle wants to have a big sloppy rib dish a couple of times a year, it has no bearing on her credibility as an advocate for healthy eating, and there is no hypocrisy involved.
  • Michelle doesn’t have to look like Calista Flockhart to promote low-calorie meals. Low calorie meals are healthier, and they remain healthier no matter size dress Michelle Obama wears. Yes, making healthy meals her mission unavoidably makes Obama a role model, and she would undermine her own message if she were unhealthy and corpulent, but she isn’t. Limbaugh’s barb was just gratuitous and below-the-belt needling.
  • But Rush, while being nasty without cause, was no hypocrite. He is not a healthy food advocate; there is no reason why he needs to be slim and fit to point out that Michelle Obama isn’t supporting her words with her conduct. Using his weight issues to attack his criticism of Obama is exactly as wrong as his criticism of Mrs. Obama.
  • Meanwhile, the actual calorie count has no bearing on anything. If the rib dish was as caloric as Limbaugh claimed, there would be nothing the matter with Michelle eating it. Her defenders that rushed to disprove Rush accepted his false premise—that it was hypocritical for Michelle to eat rich foods on a vacation— by doing so. Limbaugh is a genius at laying such traps.

Michelle Obama is the only one who did nothing wrong…with one caveat. The Obamas are both remarkably tone deaf to the apparent inconsistency between their conduct and their rhetoric. All the President’s talk about “doing without” and “skipping that vacation,’ and now Michelle’s healthy eating campaign, do create dissonance when they appear to be acting inconsistently with their words. It doesn’t make them hypocrites, and it doesn’t make them wrong. But perceptions erode credibility and trust. Leaders who want to be followed sometimes need to sacrifice to keep up with appearances for those increasing numbers of the public who don’t understand what hypocrisy is.

16 thoughts on “Hypocrisy Follies: The Ribbing of the First Lady

  1. There’s a culture in which you “walk the walk” before you “talk the talk.”

    Mrs. Obama should stay out of our business (eating-wise) until she can prove she’s “walked the walk.’ Her preferential treatment as first lady is only exacerbated by her public statements. ” You do what’s good for you, and I’ll do jolly anything well I want…”

    Be a macrobirotic. Get your husband to stop smoking. But don’t set yourself — and use your position as First Lady – that is a a guru– to tell others what they have to do. You (Ms Obama) live in a rarefired atmosphmere… DON’T EVEN PRETEND that your eating habits mirror ours.

    Quick quiz for the Obamas: Try this (and my 16-year old loved it): Sir fried Bok Choy with giant garlic and peanut oil. It’s fabulous, low cal, low fat, and very nutritiuous.

    Mrs. Obama: just to be mean. Get a better dresser. Look atheletic instead of incipient fat. I am thin but know the art of camoflauge. SOMEONE CAN TEACH YOU THE SAME…

    • From reading the plot and the author’s bio, he could be a conservative. If he is a liberal it is, of course, despicable. Of course, if he’s a conservative it is, too.

  2. Pingback: Hypocrisy Follies: The Ribbing of the First Lady « CalorieValerie.com

  3. If you think that is the only sign of despicable action on the side of the Left, then you haven’t see the Wisconsin photos coming out. The hateful rhetoric is horrendous. Walker is being depicted as Hitler, Mussoulini, Stalin, Mubarak, etc. The Morning Joe on MSNBC actually came out and admitted that if the Tea Party had signs and shouted what is being said at the picketing that it’d be on loop on every major news outlet, but instead is being ignored. Where is Obama in condemning such hateful rhetoric?

    Mrs. Obama is not a nutritionist or a doctor or anyone else with a platform to stand on when it comes to what people should eat. I have a bit of information for everyone. Every single person requires a different allotment of vitamins, minerals, and calories to sustain themselves. No person is the same. Imagine if bodybuilders ate how Mrs. Obama wants people to eat? Their muscles would starve.

    Yes, people need to eat better. But sadly, to eat how she thinks people should eat would require people to make more than what the average American earns. It’s quite sad when most of America eats fast food more than three times a week.

    What I really want to about is why the Obamas take so many vacations. From reports I’ve read, our President has spent more than 50% of his term in office outside of the White House. How do you run a country when you are never in your office?

    • When did I say that this was the only sign of despicable conduct on the left? For example, I think running away from state legislature votes you’re going to lose is really despicable. However,individual uncivil signs at a union rally no more reflects on the Left than uncivil signs at a Tea Party rally reflects on the Right. Both reflect on “Jerks.”

      Encouraging healthy eating is a proper mission for a First Lady…trying to legislate it is not. As for vacations…the more the wife and kids are out of DC, the better for them, the less a distraction for us. Obama averaged something like a speech a day last year. Presidents are still on the job wherever they are—I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama get more done when he’s “on vacation.” Nobody used to complain when it was called “going to Camp David” in the 70’s.

  4. Several years ago Al Franken wrote a book titled, “Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot”. Looks like Rushbo is trying to prove Franken correct.

    In the pot-kettle sweepstakes, a case of real porker calling a slim First Lady “fat”. As JM said, Unethical? Questionable. Stupid? You betcha!

    • Yes, I think Rush was intentionally batting a hornet’s nest. Stupid. But not hypocritical. A fat person can still assess whether someone else is fat. (Except that she isn’t. Then again, Rush didn’t call her fat….he suggested that she didn’t have a perfect physique. And, of course, she doesn’t have to.)

  5. I know what’s wrong with that picture. I don’t see the barbeque stains all over that comforter. The ribs are probably fake. If they aren’t, that stain is not going to come out.

  6. I did not mean you, Jack. That was aimed towards Neil. I know you see as fairly as you possibly can.

    This country is in a serious deficit. Each vacation costs large amounts of money. He may be able to continue to work while on the road, but it doesn’t mean he should be on the road like he is.

  7. Pingback: Now THIS Is a Hypocrite: Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) | Ethics Alarms

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