My friend Ari Rabin-Havt wrote an interesting piece yesterday about the Republican party’s obsession with hating-on First Lady Michelle Obama. Ari calls it “Michelle Derangement Syndrome.”
The Republican party has a long proud history of hating Democratic wives, with the most famous being Hillary Clinton, of course. But they still did a bang up job on Teresa Heinz Kerry during the 2004 presidential election as well. It’s part of the larger GOP problem with women, particularly women who don’t speak and act like Betty Boop.
I’ve met Mrs. Obama twice, albeit briefly, and I can safely attest to the fact that Betty Boop, she ain’t. Which only makes her demonization by the Republicans all the more dreadful. Not that one’s spouse should be “fair game” in politics for any reason (though the GOP has raised abusing Democratic spouses to an art-form), but the fact that the GOP is trying to demonize someone who most assuredly is not a demon goes to the utter dishonesty of the far-right fringe controlling the GOP.
Republicans are not in it to stop people they think are legitimately evil. They do what they do because it’s a tactic that they think works. It doesn’t matter to them whether they’re telling the truth. Bashing Democratic First Ladies is a growth business in the GOP, so a-bashing they will go.
The GOP’s Michelle Obama Derangement Syndrome is only a part of the party’s larger problem with women, which is only a part of the GOP’s larger problem with pretty much everyone who isn’t white, male and protestant. Whether the victim is female, Latino, or gay, the GOP always manages to find enough red meat to throw to the fringe masses that now run the party. The problem, for the Republicans, is that while the fringe is representative of elected Republicans in Washington, it’s not representative of most Republicans generally, or most Americans.
While putting down women, and bashing Latinos and gays, may win you friends at the RNC, it doesn’t do a lot to convince independents that the Republicans are serious about governing, and it doesn’t even win over a majority of Republicans themselves. The party is far more hateful than its own voters, and worse yet, it doesn’t seem to realize that fact. Thus, when the right-wing noise machine explodes at Michelle Obama for attending the Oscars, they actually think they’re scoring points that are going to help them nationally. And they’re not.
Ari walks through some of the GOP hate directed at Mrs. Obama for her Oscar appearance:
Never mind the First Lady was invited to attend the event, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post groused: “It is not enough that President Obama pops up at every sporting event in the nation. Now the first lady feels entitled, with military personnel as props, to intrude on other forms of entertaining (this time for the benefit of the Hollywood glitterati who so lavishly paid for her husband’s election).”
Fox News’ Todd Starnes took to Twitter to assert Michelle Obama “made [the Oscars] about herself.”
Christian Toto of Breitbart.com claimed her appearance was an “unprecedented cultural power grab.” He continued, “Michelle Obama hijacked the Oscars tonight, and we’re all supposed to be giddy at the chance to see her shine anew.”
And Rush Limbaugh bloviated “I thought of the Macintosh ad from the Super Bowl in 1984. Exact type of scenario except Michelle Obama was actually the dear leader of this — obviously a totalitarian state.”
The joke is that Michelle Obama is a relatively popular woman – the public at large hardly has the negative view of her that the Republican intelligentsia does. But the Republicans have so convinced themselves that they’re not just right, but that most of America agrees with them, that they plod ahead with these bizarrely unpopular positions.
Whether it’s hating on Michelle Obama, or insisting that the budget deal not include any tax increases (something that only 19% of the American people agree with, and even Republicans disagree with their own party on this one), the GOP continues to woo a diminishing pool of extremists that might make up a majority of its members in Washington, but continues to scare the hell out of voters of all parties nationwide.