Thursday, September 13, 2012

The "Transcendent" Mrs. O

“For Barack,” said Michelle Obama in her wildly acclaimed speech tonight, “these issues aren’t political – they’re personal.”

That reprise of the shopworn feminist slogan — “the personal is political” — was the essential premise of her entire speech. In a cloyingly theatrical modern tradition, first ladies attend the national conventions to testify about biography, not policy; they talk about the man as only they know him. But Michelle Obama managed to effortlessly marshal both to tell a story about change in America — with the promise of more to come — and to deliver her speech transcendantly. (emphasis mine)

I watched Michelle Obama's speech last Tuesday and my take-away was nowhere near Salon's take on said speech, Michelle Obama: Beyond mom-in-chief.  My first thought was, "There goes that word again!   Why are Black "achievements" always described as transcendent by our alabaster brethren (they certainly used it enough in the run-up to, and selection of, the Changeling)?"  Answering my own question I said, "Because they only consider one of Webster's definitions of the word when it comes to some, former 'savages' -- exceeding usual limits : surpassing.

Discarding the white racial frame, Webster's second definition seemed a more apt description of the Mom-in-Chief's speech to me as I talked back to the TV like one of my great aunts used to do -- beyond comprehension.  This wonderful piece by Saswat Pattanayak, posted over at voxunion last weekend, captured most of my reasons why most eloquently in, Michelle Obama and American Status Quo Action Plan:

Michelle Obama’s convention speech has been both applauded and criticized for being too emotional. Those amazed at her love towards her husband have shed a tear or two, while the detractors are disappointed at her personal narrative lacking statistical substance.

A critical inquiry would reveal that her speech was anything but emotive. It was a carefully orchestrated rehash of an old American fixation with individual merits, family values and competitive prosperity. Her speech was a blueprint for humanizing capitalism. It was a justification for the status quo politics that has uniformly strengthened a populist cry for American hegemony; decade after decade, regime after regime. Michelle Obama’s speech has merely colored the template acceptable.
Then this week, Black Agenda Report Editor and senior columnist, Margaret Kimberley succinctly and skillfully laid waste to the white-framed idea of "transcendent" in her, Black America Stands Down for the Obamas:

The best example of foolishness masquerading as substance was the overwrought reaction to first lady Michelle Obama’s speech. She gave what has become a traditional address asking voters to support the candidate because his wife tells funny stories about him which will make voters determined to vote for the good husband/dad/one time poor student who loves his country. The only difference between Michelle Obama and Ann Romney’s speeches was in the quality of delivery and fashion sense. Apparently there is still nothing like a beautiful woman in the right dress to make otherwise intelligent people lose their common sense.

I, for one, certainly appreciate these "canaries in the coal mines," who (with facts), exposed the white-framed description of Mrs. O's "transcendent" speech for what it was, politricks as usual -- "with the promise of more to come."

That in mind, Ms. Hill's searing, "When the, Son of Perdition is Commander-in-Chief..." shouldn't be ignored:

Yet the beat goes on...

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