She's No Jackie O

Is Barack Obama’s wife as charismatic as he? Though the mainstream media would have us believe so, anyone who’s read her remarks over the past few months couldn’t help be convinced that Michelle Obama may be as much of a help to her husband as Bill Clinton has been to his wife.

It’s all part of the “Obamalot” parody: if the Kennedy administration was “Camelot,” then — the fawning media insist — an Obama administration must be its second coming. And if Barack is to play the role of JFK, that leaves M.O. to play Jackie-before-O. But the media hasn’t made much headway in convincing us that she’s the second coming of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In fact, I probably have as much in common with Jackie O as the lady whose initials I share. Just how would Michelle Obama’s modus operandi compare to Jackie O’s?

So here it is: M.O.’s m.o. by M.O.

In the past few months too many articles have been published with titles such as, “Michelle O suited to be the next Jackie O” and “Michelle O meets Jackie O.” It makes a good title, great alliteration, but the last initial in their names is about the only thing that Jackie Onassis and Michelle Obama have in common. Not that Obama-promoter Katie Couric could see that. She is one of those who have swallowed this myth-making hook, line and sinker.

“At a time when her husband is benefiting from the Kennedy family’s collective thumbs-up — with formal endorsements this week from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, as well as Caroline Kennedy — Michelle’s modish but modern allusion to Jackie was more than auspicious,” said the Politico.

Many of these articles interview Shelly Branch, a Wall Street Journal editor and co-author of What Would Jackie Do? a national bestseller that describes itself as an “Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living.” The book has 10 chapters consisting of topics like how to throw a good party, how to dress elegantly, how to decorate your home, and how to “have your way with powerful men.” Hardly issues that Michelle Obama has pushed into public discourse through out her husband’s campaign.

Surface items may match up, political husbands, bouffant hairstyles, outfits — but Jackie O always kept herself well away from political activism. Jackie said things like “I want minimum information given with maximum politeness,” and “I want to live my life, not record it.” She remained out of the lime light of political opinions. In contrast, it seems that Michelle Obama embraces political activism with glee, and can hardly keep her mouth shut.

“I’ve got a loud mouth,” Michelle reminded us in Wisconsin “I tease my husband. He is incredibly smart and he is very able to deal with a strong woman, which one of the reasons why he can be president because he can deal with me.” Does this sound like Jackie? Or Hillary?

Michelle’s spotlight ironically takes on a hue that looks more like that of her husband’s competitor, Hillary Clinton. Hillary once said “You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life."

One chapter in Branch’s book What Would Jackie Do? Branch writes that Jackie knew how to “offer [her] opinion, but let him think [she] didn’t.” In recent months Michelle has made several pronouncements that made headline news and from bipartisan standpoints — her comments are damaging her husbands campaign. Pearl necklace or not, Michelle O is no Jackie O.

In an interview on MSNBC in November 2007 Michelle said "What we are dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility. That’s the psychology that’s going on in our heads and in our souls and I understand it. I know where it comes from, you know, and I think that’s its one of the horrible legacies of racism. It keeps a people down in their souls a way, you know, where they sometimes can move beyond it."

Perhaps her most famous foot-in-mouth moment so far was the remark, "For the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country" on Feb. 18, 2008 in Wisconsin. Mrs. Obama has received a lot of justified criticism for this. It also raises the question of whether her husband takes such a dim view of the nation. What else has Mrs. Obama said about the country she wants to see her husband govern?

"[America has] spent the last decade talking a good game about family values. But I haven’t seen much evidence that we actually value women or families."
— Good Morning America w/ Robin Roberts, “Running Mates: Michelle Obama One-on-One,” May 22, 2007

"I think that we as a country have been a little lax in our concern for these issues. We’ve been nullified by the fear mongers, you know? It’s almost as if people voted against their best interests because they’ve been so afraid of what could happen, you know? The terrorists are going to get us."
— Good Morning America w/ Robin Roberts, “Running Mates: Michelle Obama One-on-One,” May 22, 2007

"We’ve heard those voices before, voices that say ‘Maybe you should wait’ you know? ‘You can’t do it.’ It’s the bitter legacy if racism and discrimination and oppression in this country."
— Michelle Obama’s speech at South Carolina State University, Nov 2007

"Ask yourselves. Who will fight to lift black men up so we don’t have to keep locking them up? Who will confront racial profiling? Voter disenfranchisement?"
— Michelle Obama’s speech at South Carolina State University, Nov 2007

"We need someone who can speak to our souls because our problem is that we have holes in our souls. And I am married to the only man in this race who has a chance of even beginning to address that fundamental problem: Barack Obama."
— Iowa, Dec 2007

Michelle Obama’s statements exude ideas of racial separatism and victimhood. She apparently has a very low opinion of America and misses few chances to voice it. Women deserve the right to speak there minds, and by no means do I believe that a woman’s place is silent standing beside her man as Mrs. Clinton — and lately Mrs. Spitzer have done. But to liken Michelle Obama to Jackie Onassis is akin to equating Nancy Reagan and Rosie O’Donnell.