Months ago, Michelle Obama was considered a scary liability. She was an aggrieved angry Black Woman, and America, oddly, is terrified of black women. The original code was "sarcastic." It meant castrating. Threatening! (Well, actually it just meant "sarcastic," but the people who parse these sorts of things read into it all their own weird baggage.) And here she is, a couple months later, our probable next First Lady, on Jay Leno, talking about her all-J. Crew outfit in a subtle (but not sarcastic!) dig at Ms. Genuine Real American herself, Sarah Palin. How did she manage the image reversal? Just kinda by being a slightly nicer version of herself! We all remember in February, when Michelle Obama accidentally revealed that she wasn't very proud of America. This led Mickey Kaus to lead the Charge of the Idiotic Racially Charged Language Brigade, declaring that Michelle's "default position is set to 'Aggrieved'" and further claiming, once again, that she belittled and castrated her weak husband by occasionally joking about him snoring. (Seriously, these people are insane.) But the "proud" remark cemented an early reputation for being a liability to the campaign, and led to Michelle facing some of the weirdest and most damning whisper campaigns of the election. She is on tape ranting about "whitey." She called up an imaginary African news agency to deliver an utterly insane rant about her many racist enemies. And, you know, she eats Iranian caviar. But gradually, the media discovered that voters liked Michelle Obama. Well-meant concerns about how threatening and scary she was were unfounded—she was comfortable on The View, on Ellen, even on The Daily Show. And while she's being careful with her words on these shows, barely talking politics at all, and acting, for lack of a better word, safe, there's not really any evidence that she's ever been a dangerous aggressive fire-breathing radical. (Angela Davis and Sistah Souljah are apparently the only Black Women most pundits know.) And so, like the "Obama is a Socialist Radical 1960s Terrorist" smear fails because it just doesn't square with the reality of his demeanor, words, and actions, the "Michelle Obama is an Angry Black Woman" story doesn't really line up with her good-natured demeanor, obvious loving relationship with her husband, and devotion to her amazingly adorable kids. Now, Michelle Obama is safe enough to pal around with Leno, the blandest man on TV, and safe enough to address swing states. Progress! New to Campaigning, but No Longer a Novice [NYT] Related Reading: Who Are Black People, And Why Are They So Angry? Terror At Michelle Obama Doing "God Knows What" In the White House
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