Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Michelle Obama Is Not A "Feminist Nightmare" And Saint Elsewhere

Recently Politico decided to publish an article about why Michelle is a "feminist nightmare." To be sure, these types of "provocative" articles are in no small way a sort of clickbait. By writing an article designed to annoy feminists you can cause a lot of people to post about the article and why they didn't like it on social media and their own personal blogs. You can even get professional writers to take you to task as well. You might look kind of silly in the end, but at the same time you drive traffic to your site, if only from people who are mad at you. In the blogging biz we call this "trolling."

But personally I found the Politico article haranguing Michelle Obama to be really frustrating. Why? Well, there's basically no nice way to say this, so I'll just say it: in her Friday cover Michelle Cottle showed a deep lack of understanding about how the government of the United States actually functions.

To review: the First Lady does not hold a policy or administrative position, like say United States Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services, in fact her position is not even an elected or appointed office. So saying things like "...Michelle Obama is not about to tap her inner wonk..." is silly because not tapping your inner wonk makes sense when you aren't in a policy position. And again I hate to be rude, but the last time the a First Lady was given a major policy initiative was when Hillary Clinton was put in charge of the First Clinton Administration's health care policy. As I recall it ended in disaster. Not because Hillary Clinton is dumb or anything like that, but because of the fact that her position was very much unsuited for the task of building a coalition in Congress to pass a bill. It's not her fault that it failed, the failure was in large part because of a flawed approach to passing bills in Congress and Bill Clinton's overall dismal transition during his first two years.

It's like if I told Cottle that she needs to do more to improve education in the Mississippi Delta. She would probably respond with something like "Yes John, I agree that is a problem, but I'm a writer, not a philanthropist or Governor of Mississippi so I don't really control the educational policies there." I could then write a screed about how Collet "isn't a good feminist" because she doesn't care about the issue of girls being poorly educated in the Mississippi Delta but that would be silly because it's the institutional and structural reality that's driving things, not her failing as a feminist or whatever.

Michelle Obama raising issues like obesity in low income and minority communities does in fact make sense because these are issues that otherwise completely ignored. So actually she knows exactly what she's doing.


Over at The Good Men Project i recently wrote about how the issue of unemployment hasn't exactly gone away, I also revisited the media's coverage of George Zimmerman over the summer and compared to it the silence now that he keeps getting caught up in incidents of alleged domestic violence, and wrote about why we should be thankful for our politics.

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