Michelle Obama, her daughters, her mother, and goodness knows who else are flying to China today on the taxpayers’ dime. But of course!
The Chinese built the Great Wall to keep out “barbarians”. Does it work? Apparently not all the time.
The 8-day junket is described by the White House as “official” business in order to justify making We the People foot the bill: [emphasis added to quotes]
White House advisers on Monday described First Lady Michelle Obama’s upcoming official trip to China as focused on cultural exchanges and the value of education … No press pool of American reporters will be allowed to travel on her government aircraft during the trip, but the first lady will post her own accounts during her trip on the White House website.
Earlier it was reported that Michelle expects (orders?) schools across the nation to check out her blog posts, so the children can follow her, her daughters, and her mother on their most excellent Chinese adventure. So far, the White House isn’t saying how much this trip will cost taxpayers. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, did say, however:
The first lady’s story itself sends a powerful message about the ability of someone of a disadvantaged economic background from a minority group to ascend to the position that she did in private life and now as first lady.
That’s a story, all right. As in a tall tale.
For a little perspective, the average annual family income in China is about $2100. The Chinese live in places like this:
Michelle Obama, on the other hand, grew up here:
While no palace (compared to the White House or the mansion in Chicago where Michelle lived before moving to DC), her childhood home is not what most people would associate with someone from a “disadvantaged economic background.” This story from the UK described the truth about Michelle’s upbringing:
[We]e found a rather different picture from the one so single-mindedly promoted by Camp Obama.
Instead of the one-room tenement that now appears in most accounts of her upbringing, we found a well-kept neighbourhood of red-brick Arts and Craft-style houses which have long been home to respectable black families.
“Michelle was from a middle-class family,” confirmed one of her long-time friends, Angela Acree.
“She came from a regular family. They had a nice home. It wasn’t a mansion, but it was just fine. It was a decent neighbourhood.”
The Robinsons grew up on the upper floor of a house built in the Twenties. Number 7436 South Euclid Avenue – a classical reference to the Greek mathematician which found an appropriate echo in Michelle’s subsequent respect for traditional learning – even has a small garden, shaded by a large elm tree, and an ornate stone bench. …
[Michelle's father] Frasier Robinson … was a good deal more than the labourer that many seem to imagine.
Indeed, according to family friends, Michelle’s father was a volunteer organiser for the city’s Democratic Party, a by-word for machine politics in America, and his loyalty was rewarded with a well-paid engineering job at Chicago’s water plant. Even before overtime, he earned $42,686 – 25 per cent more than High School teachers at the time.
Michelle’s mother stayed at home and devoted her energies to her and her older brother Craig. …
Television was all but banned in favour of homework, debates about the issues of the day and improving games of chess.
Michelle had a stay-at-home mom. She attended a good magnet school in Chicago and later went to Princeton and then on to Harvard Law School. Hardly the life of a person from a “disadvantaged economic background.” Being of the “middle class” in the United States of America is far from being “disadvantaged.”
One has to wonder what kind of fables Michelle will spin for the Chinese. Will she talk about the long miles she had to walk to school with a sweet potato in her pocket? (Her elementary school was a little over half a mile from her home.) Will she tell them that when her mom told her that “sometimes you just have to eat your peas,” Michelle wanted to send them instead to those proverbial starving people in China?
Perhaps some day, John Adams will write an opera in three acts entitled
Michelle in China.
Will they cast Beyoncé in the starring role? Probably not if Michelle has anything to say about it.
h/t Zenway for the idea for this post.