Michelle Obama and Ann Romney were both popular, effective speakers at their husband’s conventions.  Yet now that our Princeton and Harvard Law-degreed First Lady had offered the waiting world her national threat assessment, it’s time for Americans to ask First Ladies to back off the big issues.  Because it can just be embarrassing, in a week like this, with mobs rioting and U.S. embassies burning, for Mrs. Obama to be out there telling the nation that obesity – of all things – is our number one national security threat.

Obesity? The fact that many Americans are overweight is certainly not a good thing, as each and every one of those overweight people who struggles with the problem would probably tell you. But our number one national security threat?  The only person who shares that view, is fat-phobic N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city is so otherwise perfect, that banning large sodas from movies and sports arenas is all he has left to do.  

Awkward, of course, that Michelle made this statement on national TV, speaking to celebrity Dr. Oz, just as a mob of wound up Libyan Islamists were attacking and murdering U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.  It’s hard to say, of course, whether the apparently co-ordinated, planned attacks by Muslim extremists on September 11th, are a bigger threat – or the fact that neither the President of the U.S. nor the Secretary of State thought it was important to have any security at that mission, in a city that has long been an Al Qaeda stronghold, on the anniversary of a terrorist triumph.  Violence by radical Islamic factions is a pretty big threat. Failure to protect vulnerable U.S. outposts and the brave men and women who serve in them, is a self-inflicted wound, by an Administration that does not really understand that it is not more lovable to our enemies than the prior U.S. Administration. Arrogance is a bigger national security threat than fat.

As a side matter, apologizing to the perps is a great way to exacerbate the threat to our national security, as should be clear to everyone, everywhere. A posture of assertive weakness by our leaders is a threat to our national security.

Along those lines, while it is not a contender for ‘biggest national security threat,’ but should win in the category of ‘actions that get you fired immediately,” how ‘bout our ambassador in Egypt, who forbade the Marines guarding the also attacked Cairo Embassy, from carrying loaded weapons? Seriously.  And she does not appear to be obese.

But maybe Mrs. Obama was thinking solely about internal threats to our national security.  As no one in her husband’s administration is likely to mention, continuing to spend tax dollars at record levels while creating unsustainable lifestyle expectations among your supporters, and unsustainable debt in the real world of the economy is a real threat to our national security. Among other things, it limits what we can do overseas; who we can buy off with aid; or threaten with military retribution credibly enough to keep from having to actually bomb them.  Being poor as a nation is a national security threat, because keeping the peace is expensive, and going to war is more expensive still.

For that matter, having a growing cohort of poor Americans, who are poor for systemic economic reasons that the current Administration has not addressed, is a huge long term threat to national security – let alone the security of those American families.  But deindustrialization is hard to fix in a global economy, so let’s not think about it.  Let’s think about the slightly easier to fix problem of no jobs for the formerly employed, who are eager and qualified to go back to work. Major, major security threat.  

Since I doubt that Mrs. Obama would comprehend why some people think overstepping the bounds of constitutional government is a threat to our security as a nation … we won’t go into that here.

But… if we are limiting the contest to domestic, cultural problems, I’d say that stupidity is a bigger threat than body-fat, no? OK, ‘stupidity’ is both harsh and subjective. So, let’s be concrete: It’s a threat to our future that right now, in the President’s political home base of Chicago, where roughly 350,000 children attend the public schools that this country provides in order to create an educated citizenry and a competent workforce, the teachers are out on strike. Actually, the real problem seems to occur when they are not on strike: Chicago has a mere 56% graduation rate; at all grade levels only 6% or 8% of children read at grade level; and only 6% of these students go on to four year colleges.  Paying the teachers is not the problem here, and getting them back into the classroom guarantees …. nothing useful. Failure to educate the most vulnerable American kids is a clear way to lose the future – to use the president’s own phrase.

My personal candidate for worst domestic, self inflicted, attempt to undermine our national will and security, is maintaining a culture and set of policies which make it possible for a majority of current births to take place outside of marriage.  Those young mothers and their babies are guaranteed avoidable poverty, and significantly worse outcomes in education, careers, and pretty much all measures of life success. Not only has the Obama administration failed to address this huge social fissure, it has failed to acknowledge it.

Of course, while her husband is off raising money for his campaign while joblessness grows at home, and anti-American mobs get more and more violent abroad, Mrs. Obama has, actually worked out a solution to the threat of obesity. She promotes exercise with the catchy motto, “Let’s move!”  As our nation crumbles from all of these Obama-era threats, internal and external, it would be ironic if “Let’s move,” — away from this mess – became a real solution to America’s self-inflicted deterioration.


Lisa Schiffren is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.