Pharos-Tribune

Columns

April 2, 2014

PARKER: Lighten up on the lady

The past couple of weeks have marked a turning point in American ugliness as the mob has turned its full fury on first lady Michelle Obama.

From criticism of her trip to China to a recent “tell-all” by former White House assistant press secretary Reid Cherlin writing for The New Republic about Mrs. Obama’s allegedly tyrannical behavior, the gloves have been removed.

As described, she was a perfectionist — super-attentive to detail and laser-focused on advance planning. And this is bad because? Worse, according to a former (anonymous) staffer, there was no barometer for meeting Mrs. Obama’s high standards.

“The first lady having the wrong pencil skirt on Monday is just as big of a [mess-up] as someone speaking on the record when they didn’t mean to or a policy initiative that completely failed,” said the former aide. “It just made you super anxious.”

As for vacations, Hawaii may be an enviable destination, but China? (Please don’t feel compelled to share your China vacation. I’m sure it was great.) Moreover, goodwill exchanges are among our most effective instruments in diplomacy, soft or otherwise. What is more humanizing than a mother, her daughters and their grandmother?

As for the conduct abroad, a snapshot doesn’t tell the story. Mrs. Obama’s no-press stipulation is problematic, to be sure, but I can confidently report that the Obamas are recognized for their superior attention to protocol. Witness Mrs. Obama when she met Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and national security adviser Susan Rice during the president’s recent visit with Pope Francis. Both ladies wore black attire, including mantillas.

This is proper dress for women at the Vatican and I’m told they were observed appreciatively. Aren’t proper conduct and decorum what we really want from our presidential spouse?

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