Of M. Obama and Fox News
Let's help out Fox News hosts Chris Wallace and Britt Hume. First, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt by attributing to ignorance, rather than dishonesty, their comments following the speech (transcript here) last night of Michelle Obama. Then, we'll disabuse them of their misguided notion, then suggest where they legitimately could have criticized the First Lady.
Wallace, (poorly) playing the part of the objective reporter on the convention floor, remarked
I thought it was an OK speech but as you heard her delivery, it was just masterful. And she was reading from a Teleprompter. But you couldn’t tell. It seemed to come totally from her heart and very much seemed to affect the crowd... I’ve got to say, listening closely to the speech, one of the things that struck me was it was all about government. When she talked at the beginning about the people who exemplified the best of the American spirit, she talked about teachers and first responders and the military. All very admirable professions. But all government.When she talked about ways to build the middle class, it was all about the auto bailout and student loans and health care reform. Once again, all government programs. And that was a subtle subtext to the entire speech.
As one of Fox News' commentators, Hume a moment later contended “There was no mention… about the private sector."
Admittedly, Michelle Obama did speak of public employees: of teachers; of "heroes" flying across the country to put out a fire … driving for hours to bail out a flooded town;" and of soldiers, "our men and women in uniform and our proud military families … in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons … in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan."
That would be one more time than Mitt Romney mentioned Afghanistan... or American soldiers... or rescue workers. And Obama acknowledged that she and her husband couldn't do it alone, that "nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants." No man or woman an island, but "so many people had a hand in our success." They needed help, and Americans- collectively- responded, a tendency distasteful to Fox News.
But while it is true that the First Lady cited "government" as often- zero times- as she did the "private sector," she did in fact refer to the private sector, specifically "where a steel plant had shut down." Of course, GOP TV would not acknowledge that steel workers are private employees, given that it might bring up inconvenient thoughts of GSX Steel, closed after Romney's Bain Capital "forced the company to take on hundreds of millions in debt to pay themselves and finance acquisitions, ultimately leading it towards bankruptcy."
Nearly to the extent of Ann Romney's speech to the GOP convention, Mrs. Obama's speech was content-free, as virtually required by law when a male candidate's spouse addresses delegates. She did deviate, however, from her emphasis on family biography when, without sadness, regret, or irony as a Democrat, she stated "I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay." Digby observes
The best of the human spirit is not being forced to work yourself into an early grave, whether it's here or in Greece. There was too much extolling of the American worker's willingness to work more hours for less pay in various speeches last night. As long as 1%ers like Mitt and Ann Romney are spending millions for dressage horses that's just not acceptable.
A "news" network committed to the election of conservative Republicans, however, cannot find anything wrong with the idea of public sector employees working pro bono (or private sector employees for a $7.25 minimum wage). Not when President Obama is accused by his opponents of running down the private sector while all net job loss during his Administration has taken place in the public sector and corporate profits have risen 58% since mid-2009. And not when the GOP presidential candidate, during his entire acceptance speech, cold find no room to praise teachers, police, firefighters, armed service personnel, health care workers, or any public employees, save the late Neil Armstrong. To Fox News, then, as to many of the powers in the Party for which the network advocates, the only good public employee is a _____ public employee. You fill in the blank.