Speaking at a Rhode Island reception, First Lady Michelle Obama had this to say:
And I know that amidst all the chatter and the debates, it can be hard to see clearly what's really at stake. And these issues are complicated, and folks are busy. Folks are raising families and working full-time jobs, helping out in their communities. And many of us just don't have time to follow the news, and the back-and-forth, and to figure out how all of these conversations and issues connect to our daily lives.
Note to Mrs. Obama: That "chatter and debates" is democracy at work. This is how we decide the future of our country. The debates aren't "distractions," to use one of your husband's words, but rather they are the very rich and rambunctious sound of democracy. You'd be surprised at how many of us dumb cluck citizens are able to figure out the issues and connect them to our own lives from what you dismiss as nothing but "the back and forth."
Mrs. Obama knows that there is enormous suffering in this country ("I hear about how folks are taking that extra shift, or they're working that extra job…), but she doesn't connect them to the disastrous economic policies of her husband's administration. She doesn't want her audience to listen to the "chatter and debates" either because they might get some wild idea that it's time for change.
Al Gore could have told Mrs. Obama how difficult it is to run against the status quo when you are the status quo. Therefore the Obama campaign must seek to portray our economic woes as endemic:
And make no mistake about it, these struggles are not new. For decades now, middle-class families have been squeezed from all sides. The cost of things like gas and groceries – tuition – have been continually increasing, but people's paychecks just haven't kept up.
So when this economic crisis hit, for so many families, the bottom just fell out. And the question today is, what are we as a nation going to do about this? Where do we go from here?
It is true that President Obama inherited an economic mess. Indeed, I think he may have mentioned this himself. But to say that middle-class families have been "squeezed" by the US economy "for decades now" just isn't true. September 11 hit our economy hard, for example, but Bush policies were able restore it sufficiently for him to be elected to a second term.
Mrs. Obama also singled out former Rep. Patrick Kennedy as a role model. I'm going to take a pass on recounting Mr. Kennedy's career because his sister Kara recently died. I don't have the heart to pile on. Suffice it to say that, if I had kids, I wouldn't be hoping they grew up to emulate Mr. Kennedy. But nobody should be willing to give her a pass on calling for passage of her husband's jobs bill. Even Democrats in Congress know this is not going anywhere-except as a talking point on the campaign trail.