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Michelle's America

Mrs. Obama talks about herself and her country.

11:00 PM, Feb 18, 2008 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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It was a remarkably un-self aware moment. If it's true that her scores didn't merit her admission to Princeton and Harvard, then rather than having someone trying to hold her back, it seems that someone was willing to take a chance on Michelle Obama. And that faith was rewarded: Even though her test scores weren't particularly outstanding, she thrived in elite settings and has had, by all accounts, an impressive professional career, too.

But Mrs. Obama seems to both accept such a benefit of the doubt and then decry something that sounds a lot like the soft bigotry of low expectations. And she presents her academic credentials as a triumph over some nebulous group of people. When she talks about "grabbing her seat at the table" and finding that there was no "magic" in the other people who had also earned their way there, it sounds uncomfortably like she is dismissive of others who might not have had the help she received.

Or perhaps it's just her reaction to a sense that there have been many people trying to stop the ascent of her and her husband. (If such people exist, they've been spectacularly unsuccessful.) Talking about Barack's Senate campaign, in which he ran unopposed by a serious Republican challenger, Michelle said that the couple learned that "when power is confronted with real change, they'll say anything to stop it." There "they" go again.

Instead of seeing America as a place which afforded her the opportunity to create a blessed life, Mrs. Obama seems to view it as a place where some "people" are always trying to hold her back. Whoever these "people" are, we should be glad they haven't been successful. Michelle Obama's progress is--despite her telling of it--an inspirational story that should make us proud of America, not frustrated by, and scornful of, it. It says something about her view of this nation, and of her husband and herself, that she seems to find it so difficult--their own experience notwithstanding--to feel gratitude for and pride in her country.

Jonathan V. Last is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.