John Kerry, who has campaigned with Michelle Obama, said the attacks could backfire. "She's a mother of two young daughters, and her self-made story is America's story," the Massachusetts senator said. "I think a lot of people will be repelled by the attacks on her, because it'll feel like an attack on their own family. Republicans smear her at their peril."Attempts at understanding how Barack managed to surround himself through such a short career with so many hateful and bizarre characters require sifting through whatever evidence exists, and Michelle is Exhibit A.
Other women, much more in the background, have suffered aggressive inquiries.
In this campaign, Judith Giuliani, the third wife of former Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, was the subject of merciless profiles that depicted her as a husband-stealing social climber.So Michelle Obama, sticking herself with zeal into commentary on what's wrong with the country that is so reluctantly hers, has made herself a part of the conversation, and that conversation, by definition, will go in two directions.
Hillary Clinton was derided in 1992 after saying, "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life."
In 2004, Heinz Kerry was a target. Sometimes, the outspoken heiress brought it on herself, as when she told a reporter to "shove it" and said -- incorrectly -- that Laura Bush had never held a "real job."
In the current climate -- where sound bites are recycled endlessly and context is ignored in favor of impact -- her more dour pronouncements have paved the way for brutal critiques.
"This is a huge debate among Republicans," said Michele Malkin, who noted that until Obama's "proud" remark, "she was the new, glamorous Jackie O, and most stories focused on her pearls and wardrobe." But, Malkin added, "from what I've seen, despite her husband's admonition to lay off of her, she's not stopping what she's doing, and I don't think the rest of us should ignore her and treat her with kid gloves."