MichelleCare?
09-17-2009
With the Obama Administration pulling out all of the stops to pass some sort of health care legislation by the end of the year, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to read that First Lady Michelle Obama is poised to become more fully involved in making the case for reform.  She continues to be a popular first lady, and has been largely viewed as an asset to the president since taking office. But the issues in which she has involved herself thus far haven't been as fraught with danger as the minefield that is the current health care policy landscape.
 
There is a portion of the Republican Party on the right that is salivating at the idea of a greater role for Mrs. Obama. In some respects, they view her as being more radicalized than President Obama on issues like the role of government and the redistribution of wealth. Think back to their outraged reaction to her campaign remarks about being proud of her country for the first time, and the now infamous New Yorker cover satirizing their view of her as a Black Power radical. These conservatives will take the first opportunity to paint Mrs. Obama’s involvement as the second coming of HillaryCare, First Lady Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated foray into big government health care reform during the Clinton Administration, even if the comparison isn't a particularly close fit.
 
It is an accepted fact that the first lady is often a president’s closest advisor and sounding board. So, her behind-the-scenes influence on policy decisions has long been taken as a given. In contrast, any public foray into policy advocacy opens her up to closer scrutiny. It sounds like the White House will deploy Mrs. Obama carefully, with appropriately receptive audiences, while shielding her from the most combative and ideologically-charged aspects of the reform debate. While this could turn out to be a big boon for President Obama in terms of energizing his core supporters and getting his message out, there could also be some significant pitfalls for Mrs. Obama along the way.
 
Note: I have to step away from the website tomorrow, so I won’t be posting. I will be back on Monday, September 21st with new content for you. See you soon. -Dean


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