Unethical Quote Of The Month: Michelle Obama; Runner-Up: Her Husband

michelle-and-oprah

“We feel the difference now. See, now, we are feeling what not having hope feels like. Hope is necessary. It’s a necessary concept and Barack didn’t just talk about hope because he thought it was just a nice slogan to get votes. He and I and so many believe that — what else do you have if you don’t have hope,What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”

First Lady Michelle Obama, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast last week.

I was going to ignore this unforgivable  statement, as there have been so many notable melt-downs from progressives and Democrats that if I commented on all of them it would be all freak-out, all the time on Ethics Alarms. However, the video really bothered me, and the timing of the remarks were so inappropriate—Let’s ask Syrians, who your husband decided to abandon in their desperation when he allowed his promise of a “red line” to  evaporate  as Assad turned his chemical weapons on them, how much hope they have, Mrs. Obama!—that I tried to think of any previous First Lady who so blatantly abused her role as a non-partisan symbol of stability and optimism for all Americans. There hasn’t been one. No First Lady, even the outspoken Barbara Bush or the activist Eleanor Roosevelt, has come close to declaring that hope was dead in America. It is especially irresponsible for a First Lady to talk like this as her husband leaves office. His predecessor was gracious, and the First Family owes its successor the same courtesy and respect.

At a time when so many Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters are acting as if their moorings to sanity and democracy are coming loose, the First Lady decided that what they needed was a declaration of hopelessness. The majority of Americans are hopeful about what lies ahead, in part because a new leader promises to change policies that have caused many of them to feel that they had no hope, with a stagnating economy, an escalating national debt, and a government that was increasingly unconcerned with their opinions, ruling by edict and decree. Was the First Lady trying to sow civil unrest? Was she intentionally fear-mongering? What an insult to an incoming President from the wife of his successor, and what a narrow-minded slur on the opposition party! Franklin Roosevelt exhorted the nation to banish fear and hopelessness as a World War loomed, and now Michelle Obama peddles hopeless because her husband is finally on his way out of office.

To his credit, Donald Trump reacted to this swipe—for once–with magnanimity, saying that he didn’t believe that she intended her graceless comment to come out the way it did. Of course, there haven’t been any corrections or clarifications coming from the First Lady, so we know she meant exactly what she said, even though  it was irresponsible, divisive and untrue

It took such an outrageously unethical statement for Michelle to beat out her husband, who would normally have the winner with this whopper, from his last press-conference:

RUNNER-UP

“And almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago.”

President Barack Obama, repeating verbatim the claim he made in July.

This statement, which is either dishonesty of self-delusion, also has the dual advantage of revealing what kind of  objective “fact-checking” we can expect from the new regime of censors on Facebook. One of them is the demonstrably partisan PolitiFact, which rated this statement by Obama the last time he made it. Their verdict: “Mostly true,” which is a misleading way of saying “deceitful,” or “false.

Politfact’s methodology was to use the Gallup poll—back in July, everyone thought polls were reliable—and its measurement of popularity among various foreign populations. It concluded,

Obama said, “Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than they did eight years ago when I took office.”The general sentiment that the United States is viewed more positively around the world is supported by three different sets of polls, but they don’t specifically talk about strength or respect.

We rate Obama’s claim Mostly True.

And that’s because, and only because, these partisan hacks don’t want to say that the statement was misleading, deceptive, and false.  When I hear that “countries” respect America, I assume that the President means the governments and leadership of those countries, not their citizens. It’s nice to be liked, but the President of the United States isn’t supposed to be concerned about how popular he is with other populations; his job is to do what’s in the best interest of the population of the nation he leads, and if other countries’ citizens don’t like it, too bad. It is vital, however, that the U.S. be regarded as strong  by other countries, and respected as well. Neither of those two qualities are synonymous with popularity, and Machiavelli made clear in “The Prince.”

In the same press conference, Obama unwittingly proved how respected he is with leaders abroad, relating that his response to hearing that Russia was hacking politically sensitive e-mail accounts was to tell Putin to “cut it out.” Boy, I’m sure that had him trembling in his boots, just like his “red line” threat was so effective in curbing Syrian war atrocities. Does Russia respect the U.S. more than eight years ago? The evidence suggests not. China, North Korea, Iran, Israel, Mexico…the Philippines? How about France, which Obama snubbed by being the only major world leader not to join in Paris’s anti-terror march in the wake of the terrorist bombings there. Does ISIS respect the United States, while its President refuses to admit that they are Islamic terrorists? I know Gallup doesn’t poll national leadership, so we must all speculate. and I’m certain there will be those who try to manufacture a case that Obama’s spectacularly weak and feckless handling of foreign affairs that has left the world more dangerous and chaotic than it was eight years ago somehow also made the United States appear stronger. I can’t wait to read them. Nonetheless, by any measure, what Obama said was propaganda, devoid of facts, and a self-congratulatory narrative.

You know–“Mostly True.”

19 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

19 responses to “Unethical Quote Of The Month: Michelle Obama; Runner-Up: Her Husband

  1. Since emotional propaganda is the primary source of information that emanates from the Obama administration and the political left, these kinds of statements from the First Lady to gin up emotions from their base should come as no surprise.

  2. Other Bill

    Thanks for posting this. So unspeakably pathetic.

  3. Chris

    Michelle Obama was not saying that hope is dead in America. She was describing a feeling many Americans have. She ended her quote by saying that Hope was still necessary. Why would she do that if she were saying Hope was dead?

    When I hear that “countries” respect America, I assume that the President means the governments and leadership of those countries, not their citizens

    Well, that’s weird. I hear citizens. But even if he was only talking about the leadership, you’ve offered no proof that he’s wrong, so to declare this an unethical statement on so little evidence strikes me as extreme. You didn’t really rebut it with anything but speculation, as you admit.

    • Isaac

      “We are feeling what not having hope feels like.” Just how do you spin that statement?

      And for the record, millennials, the group that voted en masse for Obama and Hillary, have much higher average student debt, much lower income, and fewer job prospects than they did eight years ago. Household income plummeted. The welfare rolls swelled, and the national debt nearly doubled. Violent crime has started to rise for the first time in decades. STDs are officially at epidemic levels, including the nearly irradiated syphilis, which has made a comeback. Obama gave more corporate welfare than any president before him ever, started three wars, turned national health care into scrambled eggs, and shrank the middle class, whose income reached a 50-year low.

      Of course the First Lady wants to measure her husband’s presidency using her own invisible “Hope-O-Meter.” There’s no objective metric that makes him look good.

    • Huh? We know what Israel thinks of Obama and the US’s betrayal. Iran mocks the US in its media daily, The President of the Philippines insulted Obama in the most offensive manner. Putin defies him repeatedly: that’s respect? Syria is obvious. It’s all res ipsa loquitur, and the burden of proof is on Obama: he’s the one making the ridiculous assertion that 8 years of fecklessness, weakness and incompetence results in respect. The thorough mess the world is in is evidence that the US isn’t regarded as strong and respected. What more evidence is needed?

      You know the scene in “The Man With Two Brains” where Steve Martin asks his dead wife for a sign that its OK for him to marry sexy Kathleen Turner? A spectral voice starts screaming “NO! NO!” and the wife’s portrait spins around and everything goes flying around the room, and after all of that, Martin says, “Just any kind of sign!”

      You remind me of that scene.

      • From ABC today:

        Raddatz asked Moran if Russians were worried about Obama, who “has promised” — in other words, threatened — “to retaliate against that hack.” Moran said:

        You know you don’t get the sense that the Russians are very worried about President Obama. There’s a sense here that he is a pie-in-the-sky idealist. Somebody said he has too many beautiful ideas in his head. They saw him pull back in Syria and they didn’t get a strong response, according to U.S. intelligence agencies, from tteir initial probes into the DNC. They aren’t that worried about an Obama response, it seems.

        Such respect!

        • OR This, from Meet the Press:
          Former Obama Sec. of Defense Robert Gates said:

          ” I think that Putin saw the United States withdrawing from around the world. I think actually the problem has been that President Obama’s actions often have not matched his rhetoric. His rhetoric has often been pretty tough. But then there’s been no follow up and no action. And if you combine that with red lines that have been crossed, demands that Assad step down with no plan to actually figure out how to make that happen, the withdrawal from the Middle East, from Iraq and Afghanistan and essentially the way it was done, I think it sent a signal that the US was in retreat. It was always going to be complicated to withdraw from those wars without victory without sending the signal we were withdrawing more broadly from a global leadership role. I think some of the things that have been done have accentuated that impression around the world. And I think Putin felt that he could take advantage of that.”

          Respect!!!
          Strength!!!

    • Chris wrote, “She ended her quote by saying that Hope was still necessary. Why would she do that if she were saying Hope was dead?”

      Chris, she didn’t “end” her quote by saying that “Hope is still necessary” that was only barely half way through the quote, plus saying that it’s necessary does not imply that hope still exists.

      Chris did you completely miss this statement, “we are feeling what not having hope feels like”; there is no implication there, she’s saying outright that “we” don’t have hope, because it would not be possible to know what lacking hope could feel like if “we” didn’t lack hope. She is not only directly implying that hope is dead, she is stating that we don’t have hope.

      As usual, your comprehension is lacking a connection to reality and your logic is a great big failure.

  4. Andrew Wakeling

    I don’t know what any of this has to do with ethics. You might very reasonably disagree with Michelle Obama, but surely she has a right to her opinion, which seems to be honestly held?. You say her statement is ‘unforgiveable’, but why should she seek forgiveness and from whom? I would have expected an ‘unethical quote of the month’ to have at least some serious intent to mislead, probably to obtain unfair advantage. There is none of that here.

    • JUMP BALL: Who wants to explain to Andrew how clueless this comment is? I’d be grateful; I still haven’t finished getting the %&^$@*&!!! lights on the tree.

      • Chris

        No, I’m also confused. I thought the line here was that First Ladies can basically do as they please. If she has no higher responsibility, what is wrong with her saying she is feeling what not having hope feels like?

        • Then you are being intentionally obtuse. We can all “do as we please” and say as we please, but what we do and say have consequences, and the more influence and prestige we have, the more responsibility we have. This us why companies fire executives for completely legal and protected comments on Facebook, and why Donald Trump’s uncivil rhetoric on Twitter and elsewhere is unethical. Michelle Obama is part of the First Family, and represent the people and the nation here and abroad. She cannot ethically be divisive, nor can she ethically choose to foster fear and hopelessness. Thus it would not only have been cosmically stupid but also unethical for FDR to have told the nation—OR FOR MRS. ROOSEVELT—“We have nothing to fear, but our complete annihilation! We can’t win! We’re already in a Depression! MOMMY!”

          Michelle, moreover, was talking to Oprah, and her “hopelessness” translated to many as hopelessness for African Americans. Divisive. Irresponsible. Incompetent.

          • Never mind that Chris was trying to draw an equivalency between Melania stepping away from the role as the social face of the White House and Michelle making intentionally divisive and undermining comments about Trump’a election.

            No, we never said that the First Lady has a blank slate for any conduct. We did identify that she doesn’t have a compulsion for *some* behavior.

  5. joed68

    Get a load of this: “One man asked (Bill) Clinton if he thought Trump was smart, to which the former president said “he doesn’t know much.”

    “One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him,” Clinton said.

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