Monday, June 15, 2009

What If Michelle Obama Was White?!?

[Editor's Note: I am musing again. Be forewarned, this post may, or may not make a lot of sense, and I may, or may not reword it to further clarify some points I missed when I initially wrote this.]

Much has been made about the Michelle Obama Effect on Barack Obama's ascent to 1600 Penn Ave. I think the consensus around here (and elsewhere in the black blogosphere) is that without his wife, Barack likely wouldn't have won the Senate race, let alone the Presidency. For a guy with a pretty unconventional (by typical American Negro standards) upbringing, marrying a girl from the South Side gives him lots of street cred[1]. This cred helped him get outta Illinois, then overcome the Clinton juggernaut's stranglehold[2] on the black vote to secure the Democratic nomination. It was all gravy from there.

You guys know I'm hardly one to get swept up in touchy-feely gestures, cutting through this sorta nonsense is more or less the reason for this blog's existence. But even I got caught up (albeit briefly) in the whole "Black family in the White House" aura. I've never considered the Obama's the magic bullet of osmosis for all that ails Black America.

Still, it's been heartwarming to see a brotha wining and dining his (own) wife, doting on his kids, and generally acting like he's got some damn sense on the public stage for a change. Even though my 3rd eye knows all this public mushiness is little more than a (likely genuine) series of photo-ops to sell you the candidate as a likable person so you won't be as pissed off at his less than likable legislation. There's nothing disingenuous about this, it's just politricks. And Obama is not a Beige Savior, he is still just an elected official.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it we can all agree that Michelle (and the kids by extension) is a large part of selling this "likable candidate" to Black America, we also have to agree that she's in many ways a perfect storm. She's smart. She's educated. She's career accomplished. She's statuesque. She's built like a "real black woman", whatever the hell that means. She's got the hot iron from the West Heaven location of Sally Beauty supply. She's got lovely kids. She's got a husband who loves her. She's brown. She's "down". She's just like the average black woman, although in actuality, she's really not. Again, perfect storm.

I realize this is a pretty stoopid question, but how would this whole thing have played out had anyone one of those many elements been missing, or slightly different?

It's a given that the whole thing woulda failed had she been white, but what if she too were biracial? About about lightskinnded? Blue black?

What if she was 5-3 instead of 5-11? What if she didn't have a butt? What if she was sorta overweight?

What if she rocked a natural, instead of long (tall) flowing hair? Locs? An Eleanor Holmes Norton mini-fro?

What if she'd gone to South Carolina State, and NC Central Law rather than Princeton and Harvard? What if she'd become a teacher rather than a high powered hospital administrator?

What if the Obama kids were grown? What if they were DINKS?

Again, these are all very pointless questions, simply because none of them are true, but I guess what I'm really asking is just how much do outside appearances play into whether or not a candidate is attractive? Is buying into an "image", whether it's genuine (as is in the Obama's case) or not a dangerous notion, or is it merely as American as apple pie? And yeah, I already know, this sorta "sell the candidate as a likable person" thing isn't new, and didn't begin (nor will it end) with Obama. But let's stick to this particular discussion for the sake of brevity.

Before anyone gets it twisted, I still very much approve of Obama's job thus far as President, although I certainly don't agree with everything he's done thus far. Still, I wonder just how much Black America (hell, America period) got caught up in all the pretty dresses, smiling kids, and historic undertones, at the expense of really, seriously examining the candidate and what he'd do in office? How else do you account for the amazing chasm between Obama's personal favorability rating (high 60's) and that of his policies (low 50's)?

Again, sorry for the seemingly pointless verbal wrangling, but this is something that's been in my head for a second. Ya'll help me make some sense of all this.

Question: Was Michelle Obama The Perfect Storm of a spouse for Barack's ascent to the Presidency? Could the outcome have been different if any element of this storm was missing or dramatically different in the ways outlined above? Is there an imminent danger in electing a person, and not necessarily his/her policies?

[1] Man, do I hate that term. But what else best describes it?

[2] Or "completely inexplicable hypnosis". Take your pick.

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