“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:
“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.”