Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle says: It takes a family

Yes, that was the underlying message of Michelle Obama last night at the Democratic party's convention, to the delegates, staff, media, nation, and world: It takes a family to raise a child, and that family consisting of both a father and mother, and if it happens, cooperating siblings, all working on their own initiative, all dedicated to the task at hand, working diligently, loving totally.

I thought the tribute she paid to her dad was touching, how he worked at a "filtration plant"--by which I assume she means a water treatment plant, and how he continued to do so even after he was physically diminished by disease. He altered his routine, taking longer to get ready for work, so that he could continue to support his family, which he saw as his duty, so that his wife could be a stay-at-home mom. Michelle praised he mother for that, and seemed to feel having that mom at home was important to her upbringing.

The relationship between Michelle and her brother (didn't catch his name) also seemed important, based on their dovetailing testimonies. She influenced him to stay with coaching, and he influenced her to pursue public service as opposed to a Big Law partnership. Any parent would be proud to have such children, and feel that they had done something right in their raising.

Look at what was absent in Michelle's speech concerning the influences in her life: neighbors, neighborhood, extended family, government programs. She mentioned her neighborhood, the south side of Chicago, but did so in almost derogatory language. You got the sense that the neighborhood would have pulled her down if the family hadn't propelled her up. It appears, from Michelle's words, that the government had no influence at all, either positive or negative.

A last impression I got was the positive influence Michelle has on her husband and children. As stable and positive as her raising was, Barack's was turbulent: absent father, mother who seemed unstable, frequent moves, raised by a racist grandmother, experimentation with mind-altering drugs. Maybe Michelle helped her husband settle down and end the wild days of his youth. She is likely having that same influence on their daughters.

So, thank you Michelle, for that positive message, exactly what this nation needs to hear today, and echoing that of Bob Dole in 1996: To raise a child, it doesn't take a village; it takes a family.

By the way, Michelle, have you discussed this with Senator Clinton?

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