Are you ready for hope and change? Barack Obama better hope his bitter half has a change of attitude if she expects to assume the title of first lady in November. She's been likened to John F. Kennedy's wife, what with her chic suits and pearls and perfectly coiffed helmet hair. But when she opens her mouth, Michelle O is less Jackie O and more Wendy W -- as in Wendy Whiner, the constantly kvetching "Saturday Night Live" character from the early 1980s.
When last our worldviews collided, back in February, the other Michelle was expounding on her lack of pride in America. I gave her myriad reasons to cheer up -- from America's role in the fall of communism to our unparalleled generosity to our nation's superior economic system, cultural resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity. But since then, Mrs. Obama has dug in her $500 Jimmy Choo heels and solidified her role in the 2008 presidential campaign as Queen of the Grievance-Mongers.
In one of her few (unintentionally) funny moments during a recent sit-down with comedian Stephen Colbert, Mrs. Obama claimed, "Barack and I tend to look at the positives." That's a side-splitter. As National Review's Yuval Levin put it, Michelle Obama is "America's unhappiest millionaire." And she has the audacity to extrapolate her misery and her husband's alleged victimization to the "vast majority of Americans."
In South Carolina, she called America "just downright mean" and bemoaned "a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day." And in case you hadn't heard enough of her carping about how hard it is for a seven-figure-earning family to pay for ballet lessons and piano lessons and pay off college loans, Mrs. Oh-Woe-Is-Me was at it again on the campaign trail in Indiana and North Carolina before Tuesday's primary.
On the stump, she warmed up (or rather, berated) supporters by complaining about how her husband is an underdog even after he keeps winning primary and caucus after primary and caucus. With a scowl etched on her face, she bellyached that "the bar is constantly changing for this man." Call the waambulance, stat.
Barack Obama, the missus explains, is Everyman who has ever been put down by The Man. And "understand this" (a condescending verbal tic shared by both Obamas): Mrs. Obama is here to make sure you feel their pain. Which is really your pain. Because the hardships of a privileged Ivy League couple are "exactly" the same as the travails of miners or service workers or small-business owners: "So the bar has been shifting and moving in this race," she grumbles, "but the irony is, the sad irony is, that's exactly what is happening to most Americans in this country."
Don't tell Miss Michelle about the Great Depression or the Carter Malaise. "Folks are struggling like never before," she seethes.
Well, yes, gas prices are up. Some food prices are rising. And borrowers who bought more housing than they could afford are underwater. But "struggling like never before"? Didn't they teach her about Hoovervilles and stagflation?
In Mrs. Obama, the fear-mongering pot meets the angst-stirring kettle: "Fear," she froths, "creates this veil of impossibility and it is hanging over all of our heads."
But what Mrs. Obama lacks in pride for her country and its promise she more than makes up for with bottomless pride for her husband. Her standard campaign speeches include at least a dozen references to how "proud" she is of him. And of herself. And of everyone who has overcome The Man and pierced the "veil of impossibility" to get to the polls and vote Obama. An online MSNBC report on a joint appearance by the Obamas on the "Today" show in the wake of the Jeremiah Wright debacle included this tellingly narcissistic passage:
[Mrs. Obama]: "'I'm so proud of how he has maintained his dignity, his cool, his honor.'
"Obama gently tried to interrupt, admitting to being embarrassed by the praise.
"'But I am proud of you,' she said.
"'I know,' he replied."
We all know. So get over yourself already, haughty spirit. Pride doesn't photograph well. And bitterness leaves frown lines. Which means Botox bills. Which "struggling folks" like you and your husband simply cannot afford.
Try smiling for once. It's cheaper.