The debate over Michelle Obama’s ill-advised foray into hashtag diplomacy–itself a misbegotten creature whose birth we will live to regret, if we don’t already–has turned nasty and stupid, and, of course, partisan, with the media, so incapable of objective analysis now that it hurts even to watch it pretend, rushing to defend the First Lady who walked right into this spinning blade, and should have known better.
Some observations and conclusions:
- When the First Lady, any of them, presumes to wade into policy matters with the force of her husband’s office behind her, he is presumed to approve. When the policy matter involves international diplomacy, which, we hope, is carefully planned, whatever action or statement the First lady makes is indistinguishable from a Presidential action. Would the President of the United States appear anything other than weak and ridiculous if his response to any international crisis was to hold a sign in a photograph for Twiiter and make a frownie-face? No. Therefore, it was damaging to the President, the office and the nation for Michelle to tweet the same, but with her in his place, out to the world.
- Two analogies, one real and one hypothetical, come to mind. In his short term of office, President Gerald Ford’s major domestic problem was exploding inflation, and he obviously had no idea what to do about it. His “program,” essentially, consisted of publicizing the mantra “Whip Inflation Now!,” most prominently embodied with the infamous “WIN” buttons. Ford was widely ridiculed by this exercise in futile gesture and magical thinking. He deserved it. Michelle’s stunt—it is a stunt—is redolent of Ford’s buttons.
The hypothetical: Imagine if the U.S. and the world’s (disgraceful and ) general policy of contrived ignorance of the Holocaust prior to our entering World War II was addressed by FDR having his “legs,” Eleanor, pose for a photo as she held up a sign reading “Save the Jews”…and frowning. Continue reading