Two years into their stay at the White House, the Obamas must be resigned to the fact that no matter what they do, they're going to get blasted by the right. But I have to believe that Michelle Obama thought her call for kids to exercise more and eat healthier
would be as plain vanilla and non-controversial as, say, Laura Bush's cause for children's literacy
Sadly, she was wrong. For some conservatives, her effort to make our country's children healthier through her "Let's Move
" program is just another socialist stategy
to move us toward a nanny state
Taking FLOTUS to task for her so-called veggie conspiracy isn't enough for some critics. Some attacks suggest that the first lady is a "do as I say, not as I do" hypocrite if she personally deviates from a strict food regimen, even though she's been quoted many times acknowledging that no one, including herself, should be expected to give up burgers or fries
Andrew Breitbart's uber-right-wing political site biggovernment.com
decided, however, to use playground mockery to attack her, suggesting that the government should have no role in producing healthy citizens.
In its cartoon titled "Obama Nation: Listen to Your Betters
," biggovernment.com portrayed an unusually plump Michelle Obama shoving a plateful of burgers into her mouth, and demanding bacon from a large-eared Barack Obama, who is picking at a meager plate of lettuce and some other unidentifiable green vegetable.
Fat is apparently easier to attack than actual political positions.
Cartoon creators James Hudnall and Batton Lash contend that the first lady was fair game
for their purported comic portrayal. After all, they say, she can't advocate for healthy eating and
also serve wings and burgers at a White House Super Bowl party, right? Political humor is often in the eye of the beholder, but Hudnall and Lash's contention that their portrayal of Michelle Obama is just a caricature prompts the question -- are they attacking her program or are they dismissing her efforts by wrongly suggesting she's a Fatty McFatterson?
Portraying the first lady as an obese glutton is like resorting to a classic elementary school taunt: "You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny." I love a good political cartoon
as much as the next person, but this one takes a cheap shot, dismissing the substantive things someone has to say by simply mocking her appearance -- and a distorted appearance at that.
Hudnall and Lash aren't the first to slam Michelle Obama based on how she looks and they won't be the last. Ann Coulter
is famous for mocking her wardrobe as dowdy. The first lady has been called an elitist for buying a pair of pricey gardening boots
. And wearing a red dress
means she's a communist.
No matter how much the cartoonists or their editors might say otherwise, they're taking a page from the shopworn political playbook, attacking the appearance of an opponent to score points -- just as former California Senate candidate Carly Fiorina mocked Barbara Boxer's hair
, just as Glenn Beck and others have ridiculed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
for her reported facelifts, and just as Hillary Clinton was criticized during the 2008 presidential campaign for everything from her age-appropriate wrinkles to her cleavage
Playing the "fat" card is more than just political mockery. As Kerry Deikmann writes at the blog for the American Association of University Women, the "politics of appearance
" also have the effect of overshadowing the actual issues
at hand. In other words, trying to shift our focus from real issues to a superficial one has a bait-and-switch effect, especially when it's women who are in the political spotlight.
isn't a political movie, but it has some advice that today's politicians might want to keep in mind -- "Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier." And, I'd add, it will never advance your agenda, especially when the person you're talking about isn't fat at all.
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