A colleague, frustrated with what she sees as Michelle Obama’s inactivity on issues that matter, mentioned to me last night that she’d be impressed if she heard the First Lady speak publicly on the health care debate, particularly the public option.
I have to admit I would be impressed as well. But I would be impressed for different reasons. I would be impressed because, in the event that the First Lady spoke publicly on the public option, such a colossally ill-advised move could only inspire awe.
Michelle Obama will never speak on the public option and she shouldn’t. The move would only cripple what her husband is attempt to do no matter what side she came down on. If she favored the option, the Socialist Nazi Hitler Youth chorus would be refreshed anew. If she did not, the cries of betrayal would make even Joe Lieberman screw his face in disapproval.
While I appreciate my colleague’s remark–which was made during part of a larger discussion on Michelle Obama’s responsibilities, particularly in the Black community–I couldn’t help but feel as though relationship cornerstones had been overlooked regarding the First Lady speaking out.
In my experience, the strongest relationships were anchored in not only love, respect and fidelity, but also the presentation of a united front. Surely, there were disagreements behind closed doors and their were passionate differences of opinion, but that kind of transparency wasn’t for all company, particularly when a matter of critical importance was at stake.
Disagreement is natural–and hopefully welcome. Throwing your partner under the bus is never OK at any point. And while that seems obvious enough, plenty of people run into trouble because they don’t know which is which; they bus-chuck when they think they’re merely standing on their own two. The great partnerships get it; they understand the times when a family has to hold the line, even if one party is unsure. This isn’t about a wife’s obligation to her husband; this is about a partner’s obligation to another and it is a tie that binds both ways.
While I don’t know the Obamas personally, I imagine they’re acutely aware of their life and times. Perhaps in rousing closed-door discussions among friends, Barack and Michelle–two high intellects who don’t mind a good joust–go toe to toe, standing on their own two. But as the President and First Lady, it’s different; the doors are far too open, as are the ears.
For all we know, Michelle Obama is putting in all manner of work behind the scenes. She’s obviously intelligent and, in being one of the three people with the number to the BarackBerry, she has the president’s ear. And because she has it, she needn’t say more.