As a former first lady and wife of the first black president, Michelle Obama has been the recipient of cult-like adoration from at least half of the country, not to mention overwhelmingly glowing and soft coverage from a predominately liberal media establishment for more than a decade.
Yet, all of that seems to have been forgotten or ignored, as was evident in an interview Saturday with Mrs. Obama in which her repeated jabs at President Donald Trump had the unfortunate effect of demeaning the accomplishments of African-Americans everywhere.
Playing the race card
Michelle Obama spoke with CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday and played the race card throughout the conversation, at times in a rather divisive and arguably even self-diminishing manner.
At one point, Obama seemed to complain about her portrayal in some circles as the “angry black woman” — despite the fact that she is angry, she is black, and she is a woman — and suggested that people on both the Democratic and Republican sides were trying to take her out “by the knees” simply because she had the “strength of a black woman.”
It was at a different point in the interview that she lobbed an assertion that was likely intended as a swipe at President Donald Trump, but instead can easily be viewed as a denigration of her own husband in particular and African-Americans in general.
“If the black guy can do it, anybody can do it”
Asked about the qualities of an ideal president and the job of the presidency itself, Obama said, “It’s a hard job, y’all.”
“This isn’t a joke, this isn’t a game — the leader of the free world with a tweet can start a war, can crush an economy, can change the future of our children,” she said, obviously referencing Trump without saying his name.
She proceeded to note some of the traits she believes a good president should possess before returning to the idea that some people view politics as some sort of “game” to be played.
“I fear at times Barack made it look easy — I guess it’s kind of like if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it…and that’s not true. It’s a hard job,” Obama said.
Demeaning and dismissive
While her comment was most likely intended as another jab at Trump, it was nevertheless demeaning to black Americans, as it serves to trivialize their accomplishments while also playing into outdated racial stereotypes — the same sort of stereotypes the Obamas claim to be fighting so hard to overcome.
Barack and Michelle Obama, as a team, ascended to the highest political office in the land — some might argue the entire world — winning two national elections in convincing fashion. One could surely be forgiven for taking that as evidence that racism isn’t nearly as pervasive in the United States as many continue to insist.
Yet, the former first lady still speaks as if she is a racially-oppressed victim struggling under Jim Crow segregation laws, and in doing so, she has the effect of minimizing the achievements of African-Americans as being meaningless or somehow falling short of the goal.