PHILADELPHIA –On a night when Bernie Sanders supporters couldn’t be laughed over by a comedian or sung across a bridge between the two, first lady Michelle Obama blazed a path toward Hillary Clinton on Monday.
But first, the wife and mother who lives in the White House went after Donald Trump. The guy who spent so much time before running for president pushing the storyline that President Barack Obama wasn’t even born here.
On an evening of many, many attacks on the GOP presidential candidate, Michelle Obama’s was the one drawn from the most personal of experiences.
She never mentioned Trump by name, but she certainly had him in mind when she told of the challenges of bringing up two young girls in a White House fish bowl. She spoke of:
“How we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain, when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”
The first lady brought the Mom Experience to the presidential contest:
“Make no mistake about it. When we go to the polls this November, that is what we’re deciding. Not Democrat or Republican. Not left or right. No, in this election, as in every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or years of their lives.”
Only then, did Michelle Obama mention Hillary Clinton, though in a very full-throated manner. She spoke of a defeated foe who picked herself up:
“When she didn’t win the nomination eight years ago, she didn’t get angry or disillusioned. Hillary did not pack up and go home.”
And of the struggles of a politician, while she had “guts and grace,” was never the natural that her husband was, who might have become “tired of being picked apart for how she looks or how she talks or even how she laughs.”
Michelle Obama spoke of Hillary who has “never quit on anything in her life” – and you wondered if that also might be a reference to her husband.
And then the first lady merged the themes of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump:
“When I think about the kind of president I want for my girls, and all of our children, that’s what I want. I want someone with the proven strength to persevere. Someone who knows this job and takes it seriously. Someone who knows that the issues that a president faces are not black and white. They cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”
The last paragraphs of her speech told of living in a house built by slaves, and yet watching the descendants of some of those slaves playing on the White House lawn with their dogs. Said the first lady, tearing up a little:
“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters –- and all our sons and daughters -– now take for granted that a woman can be President of the United States.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because right now, it’s the greatest country on earth. I want a leader who is worthy of that truth.”