Now that Barack Obama has pretty much wrapped up the nomination, it's time to raise a question that lots of people have been talking about privately but not publicly. Is it possible that Michelle Obama is the force behind Barack Obama's refusal to embrace traditional patriotic symbols? Could Obama's wife be largely responsible for the candidate's damaging associations with crackpot race-baiters like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the Reverend Michael Pfleger? In sum, could Obama's wife be a large part of his political problem?
Obama himself seems, at least on the surface, relatively free of the kind of corrosive racial resentment that is so common among African American activists of our day. This resentment is especially puzzling as it often comes from people who, far from being victims, have actually enjoyed benefits and privileges that they would probably never get if they happened to be white.
Consider the case of Michelle Obama. She was raised in a two-parent, middle-class family. She applied to one of America's top universities, Princeton, and was admitted. Of this experience, Michelle says on the stump, "All my life I have confronted people who had a certain expectation of me. Every step of the way, there has been people telling me what I couldn't do. When I applied to Princeton, they said: you can't go there, your test scores aren't high enough."
Which is all very moving, except that her test scores weren't high enough. Michelle Obama is part of the affirmative action generation of above-average but far-from-stellar performers who were granted preferential admission to America's most elite institutions.
Michelle notes that she graduated with honors in her major. Again, the problem is that her undergraduate thesis is on the web. You might expect that she wrote about Shakespeare's sonnets or the political evolution of W.E.B. Du Bois. Well, no. Essentially Michelle Obama wrote about the problems of being a black woman at an Ivy League university.
Here is a typical passage: "By actually working with the Black lower class or within their communities as a result of their ideologies, a separationist may better understand the desparation of their situation and feel more hopeless about a resolution as opposed to an integrationist who is ignorant to their plight."