Economics

Meet Mrs. Obama, Class Warrior

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The LA Times has a piece about Michelle Obama, Barack Obama's wife who has been in the news mostly so far for calling her husband "snore-y and stinky" (in opposition to Joe Biden's characterization of the candidate as "clean" and "articulate") and her statement after the Wisconsin primary that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."

The Times piece details another series of ill-conceived, faux-populist remarks that might just play better with the voters:

We don't need a world full of corporate attorneys and hedge-fund managers," she told a crowd in a Baptist church in Cheraw, S.C., last month. "But see, that's the only way you can pay back your educational debt!

"The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. And this is through Republican and Democratic administrations. It doesn't matter who was in the White House. . . . So if you want to pretend there was some point over the last couple of decades when your lives were easy, I wanna meet you!"

Her rhetoric is jarring given that the Obamas themselves are a stunning embodiment of the American dream. Michelle Obama and her brother, Craig Robinson, the men's basketball coach at Brown University, attended Princeton University. Barack and Michelle Obama both earned law degrees from Harvard, another of the nation's most prestigious schools, and are facing the possibility of raising their two daughters in the White House.

The couple's combined salaries were more than $430,000 in 2006, according to their tax return. In addition, Barack Obama earned $551,000 in book royalties. The family lives in a $1.6-million home in Chicago.

This kind of talk really rubs me the wrong way. Not only is it self-evidently bullshit when it implies that living standards for most people are imperiled (or that college-loan debt is crushing the poor young suckers graduating from the Ivies), it undercuts and ignores exactly the sort of steps that strivers everywhere can take to get ahead: get more education, work hard, etc. (No, really, she and her brother mystically appeared at Princeton.) Congrats on her success, but why can't she talk about it more forthrightly? Instead, you get an invocation of luck rather than effort:

Despite their Ivy League pedigrees and good salaries, Michelle Obama often says the fact that she and her husband are out of debt is due to sheer luck, because they could not have predicted that his two books would become bestsellers. "It was like, 'Let's put all our money on red!' " she told a crowd at Ohio State University on Friday. "It wasn't a financial plan! We were lucky! And it shouldn't have been based on luck, because we worked hard."

More here.

Over at reason.tv, Drew Carey took a look long at the middle-class squeeze. reason takes the pulse of the surprisingly lively corpse that is the middle-class here and here and here.

NEXT: Saved by McCain

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  1. Here’s the only way to defend Mrs. Obama’s statement:

    If she’s talking about urban minority areas in Illinois, those places probably have gotten worse in the last three decades – but that has been largely due to the ravages wrought by the War on Drugs.

    No apocalyptic fantasy of the damage drugs might do to urban populations you could have invented in 1975 could possibly compare to the damage the War on Drugs has actually wrought.

    If you were standing there watching that happen, and that was your primary experience of change in the US, you might in fact be excused for thinking that the US was changing for the worse.

  2. Wow, she can really spew the stupid. Barack might want to put a muzzle on her. She seems like a great way to torpedo a campaign.

  3. Michelle Obama often says the fact that she and her husband are out of debt is due to sheer luck, because they could not have predicted that his two books would become bestsellers. “It was like, ‘Let’s put all our money on red!’ ” she told a crowd at Ohio State University on Friday. “It wasn’t a financial plan! We were lucky! And it shouldn’t have been based on luck, because we worked hard.”

    This makes me think an Ivy League education is grossly overrated, as well as overpriced.

  4. Her rhetoric is jarring given that the Obamas themselves are a stunning embodiment of the American dream.

    Yeah, it’s almost as if they can recognize other people, even other people who are less well-off than themselves, instead of assuming everything is ok because they lead comfortable lives.

    The couple’s combined salaries were more than $430,000 in 2006, according to their tax return. In addition, Barack Obama earned $551,000 in book royalties. The family lives in a $1.6-million home in Chicago.

    Class traitor! Class traitor! That, inevitably, is what “class warrior” means when uttered by a libertarian.

  5. Uh oh, joe’s sacred cow got gored. Time for some nonsensical insults, like:

    Class traitor! Class traitor! That, inevitably, is what “class warrior” means when uttered by a libertarian.

    What? What?

  6. Let’s try thing backwards:

    In an alternate universe, an economic-conservative made a speech about how wonderful the economy was, and how easy it is to achieve economic security in Amerca.

    The Bizzaro LA Times writes, “His rhetoric is jarring, as the Amabos themselves had to file for bankruptcy three years ago.”

    This is just idiotic. They’re criticizing Michelle Obama because, as a rich woman, she is not saying “Let them eat cake.”

  7. Episiarch,

    Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

  8. They’re criticizing Michelle Obama because, as a rich woman, she is not saying “Let them eat cake.”

    What? What?

  9. How is writing a book like putting your money on red? Other than opportunity costs, you dont lose money if the books dont sell. I assume they werent self publishing.

    Either she doesnt know how book publishing works or she doesnt know how roulette works.

    Cattle futures, on the other hand….

  10. Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    That there is clearly opportunity for hard workers and intelligent people (even black people can be intelligent, you know), as evidenced by the phenomenal success (measured in their income and wealth) of the Obamas?

    Hey, maybe they were just lucky. I sort of thought they were probably pretty smart, but what the hell do I know.

  11. Michelle Obama often says the fact that she and her husband are out of debt is due to sheer luck, because they could not have predicted that his two books would become bestsellers.

    They managed a very nice lifestyle before his books. If that was all financed with debt, then I think we have yet another indication that “President Obama” and “balanced budget” are mutually exclusive.

    Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    To the extent these figures illuminate whether they needed the books to get out of debt, it lets us know whether or not she is a fabulist.

    I mean, she’s put their financial history on the table; I don’t see how anyone can complain about an investigation of that history.

  12. Wait, I’m confused.

    I don’t care so much about the comment about it being the first time in her adult life that she’s been really proud of her country. I don’t even take issue with her disillusionment at life in general.
    I suspect that she knows a few hedge-fund managers and corporate lawyers, so I don’t think her comment on that is off-base. I just don’t really understand what she means by all this, or how she thinks it will help her husband’s campaign.

  13. As somebody who has almost $200,000 in student loans (and that’s after getting both an undergrad and master’s degree on the university’s dime), I have two thoughts:

    1.) The impact of the rising cost of education on my generation (late x, early y) is real, even if it’s overstated at times. The reason I’m at a corporate law firm instead of a prosecutor’s or public defender’s office is because I can’t pay off my debt and raise a family on that salary. Keep in mind I’m not complaining; I recognized the investment when I chose to go to law school and I enjoy my job. I’m just saying that maybe one of the reasons that our court system (as well as many other government agencies) is full of unqualified people is that the qualified ones would rather take private sector jobs to pay off their student loans.

    2.) Whatever your opinions on my first point, the real issue here is how you attack the problem. The cost of education has skyrocketed because increased federal loan availability has increased the supply of tuition dollars. Take away all those loans and suddenly schools won’t have enough students willing to pay $40k/year. This is the missing piece of the puzzle that I’d love to hear from Obama or any other politician for that matter.

  14. Take away all those loans and suddenly schools won’t have enough students willing to pay $40k/year. This is the missing piece of the puzzle that I’d love to hear from Obama or any other politician for that matter.

    WHAT?!? Everyone, EVERYONE, has to go to college, even if they don’t want to. How else can we all be equal*?

    * equal as in having equally worthless bachelor’s degrees, that is

  15. The Democrats, again, pulling defeat from the jaws of victory… After becoming the presumptive nominee for your party, how do you focus your campaign on a strategy to win: adopt the rhetoric and tactics of John Edwards. What is it about Democratic politicians and their desire to be victims (martyrs?)–and what is it about the Democratic base that feels comfortable with the same?

  16. Hey, maybe they were just lucky. I sort of thought they were probably pretty smart, but what the hell do I know.

    I sort of think they are probably both smart and lucky. I know that both/and thinking escapes most people, but seriously there is hardly ever a case where *only* luck or *only* intelligence have led to a successful life. It takes both opportunities (which are basically not in your control) and the abilities to make use of them (which are a function of intelligence and other trainable qualities).

    That folks around here like to minimize the effect of luck and lionize the importance of hard work/intelligence does not mean that both aren’t a factor. It just seems that people are being rubbed wrong by the fact that Mrs. Obama is pointing out the importance of the luck end of things.

  17. LMNOPussy, the part that is ridiculous is that she seems to be claiming that only luck was involved, and without it, they’d be paupers.

    You drinking yet?

  18. I think she’s saying a top notch education shouldn’t be so debt-producing. I would say she’s right except for the fact that the top notch education that produced so much debt also allowed her and her husband to become wealthy enough to pay off the debt and then still lead very comfortable lives. Just because he happened to write best-selling books doesn’t mean they couldn’t have or wouldn’t have been otherwise able to pay off the debt. They just might not have been able to afford a 1.6 million dollar house.

  19. This makes me think an Ivy League education is grossly overrated, as well as overpriced.

    You just realized this?

    Going to a top-tier state school (such as UVA) gives you the most of the same benefits with less cost.

  20. Is Michelle Obama the new Hillary Clinton? Do Republicans have a thing of going after the wives of candidates or something?

  21. We don’t need a world full of corporate attorneys and hedge-fund managers,” she told a crowd in a Baptist church in Cheraw, S.C., last month. “But see, that’s the only way you can pay back your educational debt!

    Interesting, she appears to believe that there is not a connection between the number of people doing any particular job and actual functional need for the job to be preformed. She seems to think that people go into the fields which they educated themselves for just to pay of the cost of their education.

    Very clearly, she seems to have a Marxist-like view that people involved in the decision making process of capitalism don’t actually serve any functional purpose.

    People who believe in such fairy tales should be kept far away from the halls of power.

  22. This is just idiotic. They’re criticizing Michelle Obama because, as a rich woman, she is not saying “Let them eat cake.”

    I’m criticizing her because she’s saying, “Look, why should I have to eat cake? (Like the other peons.)”

    Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    Because when she says, “Despite (our) Ivy League pedigrees and good salaries, the fact that (my husband and I) are out of debt is due to sheer luck, because (we) could not have predicted that his two books would become bestsellers,” we can empathize with her pain, because a $430,000 salary just isn’t enough without a half-million dollar book deal.

    “The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. And this is through Republican and Democratic administrations. It doesn’t matter who was in the White House

    But if we put my Democrat in the White House and really implement all the programs that got us into this mess, everything will come up roses.

  23. Elemenope,

    I know that both/and thinking escapes most people, but seriously there is hardly ever a case where *only* luck or *only* intelligence have led to a successful life.

    I have a theory of the very rich:

    To be uber-wealthy, billionaire style, you need 3 things: genius, work ethic, and luck. Mark Cuban is perfect example, since he has a thread right now. Brilliant, hard worker, and sold out of broadcast.com at just the right time. Michael Dell is another example, make him 5 years younger and he is wealthy instead of a billionaire.

    With 2 of the 3, you can become multi (10s, not 2s) millionaire wealthy.

    With 1, you can be a millionaire. If you work hard and put away money from each paycheck (spending less than you earn I consider part of work ethic) its almost impossible not to end up a millionaire.

    Anyway, thats my theory.

  24. This kind of thing may play well with some Democratic primary voters; for my entire life (I’m 36) my parents, a housewife and a machinist, have insisted that the economy is the worst it has ever been, that unemployment is higher than it has ever been, that they don’t deserve the fate of having to pay X for drugs or Y for heating oil, that when they were young things like this didn’t happen because people helped each other, etc. Every month for 30-odd years they have said this stuff, regardless of what actual economic conditions were for the nation as a whole.

    Mrs. Obama’s other crack, about how she never liked the U.S. until it looked like the citizens were going to crown her husband god-emperor, I think plays well with the opposite end of the Democratic primary spectrum, people who hate the United States, like college professors, artists, writers, etc.

    Whether this sort of thing will play in the general election, I don’t know. If the Obamas are crafty (or continue to have the luck that Mrs. Obama attributes their success to) the Senator can appeal to moderates with his alleged charisma without getting his hands sticky because its his wife who is tossing the red meat to the radicals.

  25. Take away all those loans and suddenly schools won’t have enough students willing to pay $40k/year. This is the missing piece of the puzzle that I’d love to hear from Obama or any other politician for that matter.

    WHAT?!? Everyone, EVERYONE, has to go to college, even if they don’t want to. How else can we all be equal*?

    * equal as in having equally worthless bachelor’s degrees, that is

    Not only that, but they also have to go to a school that costs $40K per year! Seriously, WTF? In-state tuition at my university is less than $4K per year (no, I did not forget a zero). Anybody who is spending $40K per year to go to college is CHOOSING to go to a private college. Maybe it’s a good investment, maybe not, it’s not for me to say. But if you want a quality education there are far cheaper options out there, so I really don’t have too much sympathy for people whining about their debt. I put myself through school, got loans, paid them off, and I survived. It’s really not that big a deal.

  26. Michelle Obama sounds so completely stupid and ignorant of economics, she convinced me that 1) she really IS successful as a matter of luck, and 2) Hilary Clinton has more brains than her husband.

  27. LMNOPussy, the part that is ridiculous is that she seems to be claiming that only luck was involved, and without it, they’d be paupers.

    Well, if as I conjectured both are necessary and neither are sufficient conditions for success, she’d be technically right in claiming that without the luck, they’d be paupers. The same would be true if she said “without the smarts, we’d be paupers” but that is already basically assumed by everyone to be obviously true, and so generally would not need to be said.

    You drinking yet?

    Does a shot of Green Dragon count?

  28. Joe,
    The inclusision of tidbits about their personal wealth are important because Mrs. Obama made it personal. Her, “if you want to pretend there was some point over the last couple of decades when your lives were easy, I wanna meet you” implies that no one in the room has had a relatively easy life- a suggestion I find rather implausible especially when one considers the life of luxury the speaker herself has made. And her constant moaning about student loans that her government gave her at a subsidized rate so she could attend Princeton and Harvard is getting ridiculous. Given her complete self absorbtion, that was first time she should have been “proud” of her country. But rather than be grateful for the sweetheart loans she that much poorer people than her subsidized, all she can do is bitch about the fact she had them back. That’s bad enough on its face, but again, the inclusion of personal financial information makes it ridiculous. Couldn’t the Obama’s have managed to somehow survive living in an $800,000 house? That would have freed up almost a million bucks- more than enough to pay off their loans, buy a few luxury cars, and probably a nice boat to boot. Between his Black Jesus routine and her whinny Marie Antoinette impersonation, these two are fast becoming my least favorite political couple.

  29. The cost of education has skyrocketed because increased federal loan availability has increased the supply of tuition dollars. Take away all those loans and suddenly schools won’t have enough students willing to pay $40k/year.

    That problem seems to be solving itself these days.

  30. Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    Well, for one thing it’s strange because her remarks seem to say that making over $430,000/year combined for a couple is not really enough money to pay off college debts. Instead, they needed the “luck” of a half a million a year in book royalties to pay off their debt. Yet, at the same time, her husband is proposing some pretty stiff tax increases on people making income at the level of their base salaries excluding the royalties.

    The real point, I suppose, is that she’s claiming that the system is broken because universities charge tuition that reflects how much money you can make by taking the most well paying job your degree allows you to get, thus forcing people to take those jobs in order to pay off their loans. I’m not sure how to address that problem, though. Yeah, he’s suggesting more student aid as well, but colleges and universities tend to capture student aid by raising tuition to compensate. I suppose the argument is that raising taxes on the wealthy will decrease the returns to education and thus force colleges to lower tuition. There’s something there, but I’m far from convinced that lowering the returns to education is something that we want to do.

    Of course, there’s nothing really new here. It reminds me of how most everyone is for “higher taxes on the rich,” where “the rich” means “those who make more than me, I’m middle class.”

  31. It just seems that people are being rubbed wrong by the fact that Mrs. Obama is pointing out the importance of the luck end of things.

    No, it was Mrs. Obama who was rubbed the wrong way by the importance of luck.

  32. Regarding student loans, a lot of students simply ask too much when they go to college. They want to live off campus, they want to have cable, they want high-speed internet, they want an X-box, they want to eat out all the time, they want to study abroad, etc etc.

    How many people demanded all those things in the 1960s and 70s when the cost of education was lower?

  33. The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.

    I’m guessing this wasn’t part of her MLK Day speech.

  34. Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    It was proof that Michelle Obama is a lying sack of shit.

  35. Is it appropriate to bring up on this thread that I chose not to attend Stanford ($28K/yr, a lousy $3K/yr in financial aid) nor Harvey Mudd ($30K/yr, a stunning $800/yr financial aid) but instead went to UC Davis ($12K/yr, almost $5K/yr in free money) and graduated with $1000 worth of credit card debt and no loan debt?

  36. Cesar–

    the dorms at my campus include cable and high-speed internet in the price. The one thing it doesn’t have is included phone service, since they all already have cell phones. 🙂

  37. Legate Damar

    That was luck. Its not like you made a financial choice.

  38. joe, you may have a point except that she seems to include herself in her sample of everyone having it tough.

    I think the worst thing about her message is that she seems to think it’s downright unfair that graduates owe debt. I’m willing to listen, however skeptically, to arguments that covering tuition socially is a better way to do things, but let’s stop right there if you’re going to say having a debt to pay off for your education is unfair! You may as well crawl back into the womb if that’s unfair!

  39. Chuck-

    Read my comment about students wanting to live off campus in private apartments their second year. I wasn’t in college too long ago, and that was a common demand.

    When my parents went to college they lived in dorms at least 3/4 years and ate at the dinning hall.

  40. And its worth noting that including cable TV and high speed internet in the dorms probably doesn’t do much to lower the price of education, does it?

  41. When someone at the Obama’s income, (and usually anyone who isn’t actually truly poor) says they can’t “afford” something it actually means, “I’m not willing to make the tradeoffs necessary in my other spending I need to pay for this.”

    If she and her husband chose to do so, they could have consumed on the order of a middle-class family for a couple of years and paid off all their loans. However, they did not want to do so. They chose to have as high a consumptive lifestyle as they could while paying off their loans very slowly.

    She clearly has a (very common) sense of entitlement to a specific life-style based on her income. If she were actually economically sophisticated just wise in the way of my high school educated grandparents, she would know that pay in the order of bare necessities, debts and then optional consumption.

  42. she’s claiming that the system is broken because universities charge tuition that reflects how much money you can make by taking the most well paying job your degree allows you to get, thus forcing people to take those jobs in order to pay off their loans. I’m not sure how to address that problem, though.

    It’s simple. SHE’S WRONG! Universities charge what they do because of supply and demand.

  43. Cesar,

    At my school, you had to win a lottery to stay on campus after your freshman year. Of course, some chose to head off campus, but others got booted off. Most didnt reenter the lottery the next year.

    For those wondering, Ga Tech pre-olympic village housing construction. Once they built the new village apartments, on campus housing wasnt in shortage anymore.

  44. “when your lives were easy, I wanna meet you!”

    Call me any time, honey. I work for the government.

  45. Robc at my school it was after the second year you get booted out of the dorms. But there were “student apartments” subsidized by the university (again adding to the cost of education), but those were awarded via lottery and there weren’t enough of them.

    My parents told me when they went to school, they could live in the dorm until graduation.

    They also didn’t have cars, tvs, spring breaks in Mexico, or study abroad semesters.

  46. Cesar–

    Of course, you are right. Students were much less insistent on having high-speed internet and X boxes in the 60s and 70s.

  47. At my school (Johns Hopkins) you used to be booted off campus following freshman year automatically. Which was fine with me because I got a 1200 square foot apartment with central air. Can I complain now?

  48. I have a theory of the very rich…

    I agree with most of your theory. However, I would argue the dropoffs would be more dramatic at each level. e.g. *1* factor, I’d say, guarantees a decently comfortable live and not much beyond, and *2* factors would probably get you up into the low millions.

  49. I guess my point is, I hear liberals all the time tell me how inexpensive college was in the ’60s and ’70s.

    It could be inexpensive now, too, if you want to accept a 1970s campus standard of living.

  50. Interesting that while reading this they had a blurb on the morning news that Stanford is starting to waive tuition if your family’s income is less than 100K per year.

  51. There are assumptions galore in Nick Gillespie’s declaration that all “strivers” make their achievements through education and hard work. It begs all sorts of questions about the educational system, university education today, and so on and so forth…but for now I’ll address

    Robc-

    You said “To be uber-wealthy, billionaire style, you need 3 things: genius, work ethic, and luck. Mark Cuban is perfect example, since he has a thread right now. Brilliant, hard worker, and sold out of broadcast.com at just the right time. Michael Dell is another example, make him 5 years younger and he is wealthy instead of a billionaire.”

    You DO have some kind of point, but don’t you think that it’s fair to say that not every hard-working lucky genius is rewarded the way Mark Cuban is? I mean, if you have a genius for designing violins, work exceptionally hard at it, etc…do you think the market would reward the brilliant, hard-working violin-maker in the exact same way as it does Mark Cuban?

    I believe in the free market and all that, but surely you can acknowledge that it doesn’t reward genius and hard work in plenty of areas outside the realm of finance.

  52. Cesar–

    Don’t mind me, I was just being a dick.
    I see your point and mostly agree with it. It is true that college costs have gone up faster than inflation, so I think there is a kernel of truth to what you say. On the other hand, from my observations, the majority of college students’ financial wounds are self-inflicted.

  53. Cesar,

    I actually lived in dorms until graduation. I almost lost the lottery after my freshman year, there was a number system, I think something like 700 or lower guranteed you a room, I had a number like 1500 or something. About 2 days before school started in the fall they started filling empty rooms from freshman who didnt show and other etc. I had looked around at off campus apartments but hadnt picked one out yet (I had my choice, but didnt really like it) and went into the housing office on move-in weekend. The head of housing said that my number would “probably” be reached based on past history but he couldnt guarantee it. But, if I would take an opening in the small rooms in the crappiest dorm on campus (he didnt say it that way) I could take a spot right then. I did. Won the lottery junior/senior year so got my pick of rooms (The 700 or so lottery winners obviously got the 700 or so best spots on campus). I graduated in 1991. By about 93 or so they had the first of the olympic village buildings done and that system went away.

    I hadnt thought about that stuff in 20 years. That was fall of 1988 when I moved into a Techwood Dorm B room. Literally, the room was wide enough for bunk beds, with two desks on opposite wall and room for chairs in between. I think my office is bigger than that dorm room was.

  54. Elemenope,

    *1* factor, I’d say, guarantees a decently comfortable live and not much beyond

    Nope. As I said, 1 factor makes you a millionaire. Barring the mentally or physically disabled, anyone with a strong work ethic will be a millionaire eventually. Compound interest is your friend.

  55. do you think the market would reward the brilliant, hard-working violin-maker in the exact same way as it does Mark Cuban?

    No. He was lucky that his skills were in a more valued area or something. Then again, how much would Stadavarius be worth if he had been lucky enough to still be alive?

  56. Antonio Stradavari died in 1737, so to be alive today would have required a good deal of luck, me thinks. He did live to be 93.

  57. Stradivari. I cant even spell when copying from wikipedia. Sigh.

  58. Nope. As I said, 1 factor makes you a millionaire. Barring the mentally or physically disabled, anyone with a strong work ethic will be a millionaire eventually. Compound interest is your friend.

    Two problems: what jobs you can do/take with your strong work ethic are still mainly a function of luck (mainly lucky that there is a demand for people with your skill set), and utilizing market investments with a lackluster income would necessitate a level of asceticism that goes beyond mere work ethic…and smart investment that can generate good returns are a function of intelligence (and luck). Sure, simple compound interest will make you a millionare at 60…but that’s not exactly what we’re talking about here re: levels of success.

  59. It was inevitable (but still a shame) that the Obama campaign resorted to the 3 pillars of Democratic policy:

    -class envy
    -getting something for nothing
    -the race card

  60. It was inevitable (but still a shame) that the Obama campaign resorted to the 3 pillars of Democratic policy:

    -class envy
    -getting something for nothing
    -the race card

    …which I infinitely prefer to the three pillars of Republican policy:

    -penis envy
    -getting nothing for something
    -the race card

  61. This makes me think an Ivy League education is grossly overrated, as well as overpriced.

    Oh, I dunno. I’ve found my Ivy League sheepskin to be a very good investment.

  62. Elemenope,

    Why would you bring the GOP into this discussion?

    If your want to retort, do the 3 pillars of the LP.

  63. 2 things:

    1) If Mrs. Obama was only referring to the plight of those worse off than her, I’d say it’s fairly normal stuff, nothing to get upset about. But she seems to be saying that her husband’s big book deal was their ticket out of a bad situation. Um, how bad is the situation of an Ivy-educated couple, one of whose recent jobs include law professor, state legislator, and US Senator?

    2) If we’re going to talk about investing in a good degree, gotta give a shout-out to UC Santa Barbara. Totally kick-ass school in science and engineering, as good as any of the private places, and I loved every minute of it.

  64. Shannon Love | February 21, 2008, 10:42am | #
    When someone at the Obama’s income, (and usually anyone who isn’t actually truly poor) says they can’t “afford” something it actually means, “I’m not willing to make the tradeoffs necessary in my other spending I need to pay for this.”

    Shannon hits the core of the “afford” issue.

    If I make a million per year, live in a 1.6 million dollar house, and can’t “afford”…. (fill in the blank) it is because I have chosen to spend my resources in this particular way. To “afford” what I want, but don’t have, I can only made different choices: either I 1) acquire more resources, 2) modify my lifestyle, or 3) suck it up.

    A great choice, which covers 2 out of 3: run for public office – unless one is a complete jerk, even losing an election often meets the requirements for 1) and 2) above. And it is somewhat more likely to gain some benefit, and less risky, than writing a book and waiting for that half mil of royalties to come in.

    Unless one is actually poor -however “poor” may be defined- 3) is rarely chosen.

  65. plus- UCSB is the only UC campus with a surf break as part of campus (several breaks actually).

    does mcburley’s still have .25 beers too?

  66. Cesar, it’s no surprise that they’re going after Mrs. Obama.

    They want so desperately to turn Barack into Jesse Jackson, and it just wasn’t working. So now they’re trying it with Michelle.

    Radical! Racial grievance! Unpatriotic! Booga Booga!

  67. I wonder what effect price ceilings on college tuitions would have on education.

  68. Joe, they’re going to turn Obama into a creepy cult-of-personality leader, not Jessie Jackson.

  69. “The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. And this is through Republican and Democratic administrations.”

    If she meant that “progressives” were a big factor behind the “worse” part, I would appreciate the wit and insight, even though the statement is flat out wrong — most people have better lives now than they had back then, if you look at statistical measures of prosperity, despite the best efforts of progressives (and quite a few alleged conservatives) to torpedo the wealth creation of free markets.

  70. Right, Cesar.

    I guess when one candidate has such a huge advantage in charisma and enthusiasm over the other, “He’s like a cult leader” is the best way to try to turn that into a negative.

    The other being, “He’s an empty suit,” playing on the lazy assumption that people with rhetorical gifts are using it to cover up their lack of ideas. Like, for example, salespeople at my company.

  71. When I was in my mid teens I use to buy my dope from an old hippie that rented a place in my neighborhood. He once told me about an Ike and Tina Turner concert he went to back in the day. As Ike was singing his ass off, Tina started to do some things with her microphone. When Ike became aware of this, well after the audience did, he grew angry, stomped over to her and knocked her flat on the stage.

    Obama could learn a few things from Ike.

    If he continues with the damage control through out the election campaign, putting out every little brush fire Michelle makes with her big mouth with contrite rhetoric like he did in this case, he is going to appear to be a big pussy and a pushover for whatever the Republicans have to throw at him.

  72. Don’t attack joe’s dreamy candidate! It’s not nice. How would you like it if he attacked a candidate that you worship*?

    * (Ron Paul)

  73. joe, do you think Obama (being the obviously more publicly recognized of the couple) is playing to the center with his personality and rhetoric, and Michelle (being visible at this point only to the interested Democrats) is playing more to the left to try to steal some votes from Hillary?

    I don’t know if this was their plan, but I think it’s brilliant.

  74. Joe, whats going to happen is to counter that notion Obama is going to start putting laundry list of policy proposals into his speeches that Republicans will seize upon as left-wing.

  75. I think Obama can actually get away with not having any policy positions until the debates. Even then, if he just doesn’t say anything until the debates, McCain won’t have any homework on him so Obama can just then say a few things in debate that sounds good, and win. It won’t likely sound good to us, but we aren’t the target audience anyway.

  76. When college students live in accomoafations similar to a stateside first term enlisted man, come talk to me about how expensive it is. 4 per room. Head down the hall. No cable for your TV, the mess hall across campus open only during meal hours. That is the best accomodations I had in my first term in the navy. I’ll talk about shipboard life some other time. If four students share a 2 BR apartment, it’s better than that, isn’t it? You’re 18, dammit. You have no skills and minimal work experience. Expect to live like a poor person, because you are a poor person.

  77. They want so desperately to turn Barack into Jesse Jackson, and it just wasn’t working. So now they’re trying it with Michelle.

    Joe, she IS campaiging for him, so isn’t what she says fair game?

  78. Joe, she IS campaiging for him, so isn’t what she says fair game?

    As long as we pay for First Ladies, and also the wives of Vice Presidents, for Christ’s sake, to have full staffs than they are fair game.

    And to be fair, I thought Laura Bush made a complete ass of herself on a trip abroad last year, but it got little media coverage.

    One of the advantages of a Hillary presidency is no one will bitch about the bitching over the First Spouse when he makes an ass of himself.

  79. Please, tell us all what the inclusion of the Obama’s income and wealth figures added to the story.

    Joe, read the article more carefully. It was added to buttress the argument that they are the “embodiment of the American dream”. You may disagree that they’re the embodiment of said dream, but that’s all the income inclusion was meant to do.

    We libertarians are naturally skeptical of rhetoric which tries to tell us how lousy things are for… “us”. Cue John Edwards talking about “two Americas”.

    For example:

    “The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. “

    Most people. MOST people?!! This is wild, poorly thought-out rhetoric, and nothing more.

    When a politician (or his campaigning wife) tries to tell everyone how lousy their lives are (*raises hand* because I figure I’m in the category of ‘most people) it just gets tired.

  80. speaking on the college sub topic here, my two cents.

    When I left college I had two thousand dollars in total debt which I managed to pay off fairly quickly.

    How did I do that, you ask?

    The first two years, I went to a community college, racked up transferable courses. The next year and a half I went to a cheap local college that still had a decent program in my subject major, and for the last year (yeah, it took an extra semester, not everything was transferable) I transfered to the best public college in my state where I obtained their coveted sheep skin, the same sheep skin as everyone else who graduated from there.

  81. I haven’t read any comments yet, but I’m betting joe is all over this post.
    Be right back. I’m gonna check.

  82. Alan-

    I did things very similar to what you did. I commuted my first two years by car-pooling, lived in a very low-rent district the last two years. No cable, no car, subsisted on microwave meals, spent my spring breaks at home, no study abroad semesters. Very low amount of debt paid off quickly.

  83. Utterly fucking predictable.

  84. We don’t need a world full of corporate attorneys and hedge-fund managers,” she told a crowd in a Baptist church in Cheraw, S.C., last month. “But see, that’s the only way you can pay back your educational debt!

    I’m an attorney (by training), and I still have a loooooooooong way to go to pay off my loan debt.

    Then again, I don’t work very hard.

  85. “The life that I am talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.”

    And just how would this rich bitch know that?

  86. Two problems: what jobs you can do/take with your strong work ethic are still mainly a function of luck (mainly lucky that there is a demand for people with your skill set)

    “mainly a function of luck”? Elemenope, it doesn’t take “luck” to figure out that there’s more of a demand for investment bankers than there is for elementary school teachers, as expressed by their relative salaries.

  87. some more from Michelle:

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

    Read it carefully, Joe. No more cynicism means you’ll have to keep your tart tongue in check.
    No more divisions means you are going to have to hug us. Come here, big guy, one for the New Age!

  88. Barack Obama will require you to work.

    Because Arbeit Macht Frei!

    Fuckin’ Godwined! Yeah, sweet! Fuck me stupid! Yeah!

  89. “embodiment of the American dream”

    Two wealthy liberal lawyers with aspirations of power may be a dream to the Obamas, but it’s just another fucking nightmare to this cracker.

  90. I’m an attorney (by training), and I still have a loooooooooong way to go to pay off my loan debt.

    This is THE #1 reason to never vote for lawyers – they don’t know shit about how to handle money. All they know how to do is invoice.

    The second group of people that are eceonomically incompetent are physiscians. Which was a huge red flag in regards to Ron Paul.

  91. Barack Obama will require you to work.

    Sounds like slavery. There’s a definite “reparations” theme to Michelle Obama’s rhetoric.

  92. I’ve long thought that right wingers are right wingers because they have little sense of the role that luck plays in life. The successful ones think they owe it all to themseleves and the failures think they’ve been done in by blacks, feminists, or Jews or some one-world-order combination of the three.

  93. Radical! Racial grievance! Unpatriotic! Booga Booga!

    Actually, I’d say that somebody with her income and education who complains about making ends meet isn’t a radical with a racial grievance. I’d say she’s one more suburbanite who is never satisfied with what she has.

    She’s probably courting the Republican vote with this message of “Life’s hard for 6 figure incomes: Let’s change that!”

  94. Two wealthy liberal lawyers with
    aspirations of power may be a dream to the Obamas, but it’s just another fucking nightmare to this cracker.

    I’m only half honky, so it only sounds like a vaguely disturbing (pipe)dream to me.


    I’ve long thought that right wingers are right wingers because they have little sense of the role that luck plays in life. The successful ones think they owe it all to themseleves and the failures think they’ve been done in by blacks, feminists, or Jews or some one-world-order combination of the three.

    You did not get the memo, no more divisiveness and cynicism. You’ll have to learn the new way of doing things instead of going for the old worn out play book.

    What are we going to do with those who can’t change? The glue factory, maybe?

  95. I’ve long thought that right wingers are right wingers because they have little sense of the role that luck plays in life. The successful ones think they owe it all to themseleves and the failures think they’ve been done in by blacks, feminists, or Jews or some one-world-order combination of the three.

    I’ve long thought that right left wingers are right left wingers because they have little sense of the role that luck plays in life. The successful ones think they owe it all to themseleves and the failures think they’ve been done in by the blacks, feminists, or Jews racist, sexist, corporate interests or some one-world-order vast right wing conspiracy combination of the three four.

    Pot, kettle, glass houses, etc.

    IOW, your observation is pointless.

  96. alan,

    Blah, blah, blah. If you were half as cute as you think you are, Toy R Us would market you. Fucking idiot.

  97. J sub D

    Originality isn’t your long suit, is it?

  98. oh, mk2, you poor throw back to a barbaric past, that is not very obama of you, try again.

  99. MK2 appreciates the role luck plays in life, as he was lucky someone was willing to fuck his fat, hairy momma and provide him with half his genes.

  100. MK2 | February 21, 2008, 2:56pm | #
    alan,

    Blah, blah, blah. If you were half as cute as you think you are, Toy R Us would market you. Fucking idiot.

    And they call the Fundamentalist the judgemental types.

    I’ve long thought that right wingers are right wingers because they have little sense of the role that luck plays in life. The successful ones think they owe it all to themseleves and the failures think they’ve been done in by blacks, feminists, or Jews or some one-world-order combination of the three.

    Give this guy a permanent desk at the New Yorker, originality just oozes from every pore.

    Keep it up bitch, you are going to be fun.

  101. MK2 appreciates the role luck plays in life, as he was lucky the internet came along. Now people will actually talk to him, at least for a little while.

  102. I went to Vassar. It cost a lot. I graduated with a pile of debt that took eight years to pay down. I wouldn’t have traded it for a state school education even if someone paid me the price difference. Anyone who says a good state school offers a comparable experience obviously never got a sniff of an Ivy or an elite liberal arts school. We’re talking about total immersion in an all-encompassing culture of learning and scholarship. That shouldn’t be underestimated. I went to grad school at a good state university and the undergrads there had nothing approaching the advantages of Vassar students (and, I imagine, their equivalents). OK, UVA and the UC schools are big exceptions, but it’s telling, isn’t it, that our (likely) first black president came up through Columbia and Harvard, not CUNY and UMass.

  103. Luck probably did play a large role in Michelle Obama’s success, in the form of Affirmative Action.

    The senior thesis she wrote at Princeton was called “Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community”. Narcissistic and ethnocentric are words that come to mind. But it must have been a brilliant work of scholarship because, despite graduating merely cum laude, she got into Harvard Law.

  104. “No more cynicism?” How the hell am I supposed to better myself when a possible future First Lady is trying to destroy my fledgling career?

  105. Seems to me that people who delay gratification, work hard and get an education have way more than their share of luck. Maybe we need a government agency to insure that these people don’t get more than their fair share (of luck).

  106. MortimerPeacock | February 21, 2008, 10:55am

    “I believe in the free market and all that, but surely you can acknowledge that it doesn’t reward genius and hard work in plenty of areas outside the realm of finance.”

    The “free market” does not reward anyone. People are rewarded by other people. You are correct that genius and hard work do not always result in financial success – you have to provide goods and/or services that other people actually want and are willing to pay for. Part of genius is recognizing when the hard work will pay off – assuming that is what you want. For many people, making a living doing what they enjoy is their reward – even if they could make a lot more by doing something they don’t enjoy.

  107. MK2, I can be very original. I just don’;t waste it argueing with disingenuous boobs.

  108. Ms. Obama doesn’t really believe that her family’s good fortune is a result of luck. She believes that she and Barack earned every penny they possess. She is displaying false modesty and pandering. It’s not that unusual for a politician.

  109. Wait a minute! You get ten years to pay back college loans. Is she saying he’s only been out of college for 10 years? And he wants to be President!!!!

  110. I’m jealous of her as I’ve thus far never been proud of my country for anything.

  111. We’re talking about total immersion in an all-encompassing culture of learning and scholarship.

    That and $2.95 will get you a venti latte.

  112. J sub D

    Originality isn’t your long suit, is it?

    Mk2,

    And neither is it yours.

    Just because your success (and Obama’s) is completely and utterly due to luck, doesn’t mean everyone else’s is.

  113. It’s simple. SHE’S WRONG! Universities charge what they do because of supply and demand.

    Well, yes. But if a degree from a particular university happens to be the ticket into a very prestigious law firm, then that’s going to drive up demand for that degree. The free market puts things in the hands of the people who value them the most. That means that if Harvard Law will get you a $200k job right out of law school, then if you want to both work as a public defender for $50k and go to Harvard Law, your personal and psychic rewards of going to Harvard Law School and being a public defender had better outweigh the $150k difference in salary.

    There’s a complaint as old as the day is long of “I think that my lower-paying job provides social benefits; while I get psychological benefits that partially make up for not making as much money, I’d like to have my cake and eat it too!” The more sophisticated version talks about the “externalities” and “social benefits” that should justify society paying more to take a certain job.

    However, even we concede a certain merit to that point in some situations, it’s absolutely not a reason to provide a subsidy for *all* college students like Sen. Obama is proposing. That doesn’t solve the problem because it subsidizes people who take any jobs, and in the end it just allows the college to raise tuition. It would be a reason to increase the salary of those socially beneficial jobs.

  114. elitist racist assh*les … too stupid to acknowledge that their hard work and the American social/educational system got them where they are today …

    Makes me think they didn’t work as hard as we think they did …

    real hard work leaves a mark that neither Barack or his wife display …

    think of Condi Rice and imagine her ever making such BS statements …

    As I’ve said from the start, its the long con …

  115. Do I know what will actually happen if this populist popinjay is elected?

    No, but I can tell you this: it will be far worse than anyone has anticipated.
    Beginning with who shows up for the inauguration.

  116. “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”

    I guess she has been ashamed of the clearly racist affirmative-action steps that got her into Harvard Law over more deserving applicants. It would be hard to have much pride when you are patted on the head and told to shuffle on up to the head of the line.

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