February 19th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Why is First Lady more open to talking about race than her husband?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The first lady is going "there"...

Michelle Obama is opening up and talking about race in a way that her husband hasn't so far.

Politico reports that while Pres. Obama hasn't been as willing to talk about how policy affects minority communities, the First Lady frequently brings up issues of race, region and inequality.

For example, she recently announced a campaign against childhood obesity. While it's a problem everywhere - one-third of the nation's children are either overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama points out how it's a particularly serious issue for black and Hispanic kids. She also talks about the lack of healthy food options in some inner city neighborhoods.

And in other speeches or interviews, Michelle Obama has talked about how many inner city neighborhoods are just plain unsafe.

Some believe that the First Lady is serving as a bridge from the White House to the African-American community, much like she did during the campaign.

As a candidate, Barack Obama shied away from talking about race... with the exception of that big speech he made in Philadelphia after the incendiary comments of his pastor came out.

Many supporters have been disappointed since he's taken office - saying the president hasn't lived up to the image of the first big city, urban president. A former community organizer in Chicago, it must be assumed President Obama is well aware of the problems of the inner cities. And while it's true he's created the white house office of urban affairs, he hasn't laid out a clear agenda for problems in these communities.

Here’s my question to you: Why is first lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about race than her husband?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Darryl writes:
Being an African-American, I know that speaking up concerning race would only bring more hatred to the president. I believe when the members of the Tea Party speak of the “old America” they mean white people. And speaking up for the black people would only make the president’s life more difficult.

Hal writes:
She's not the president. She is able to say what she wants and not have poll numbers showing that she is below 50%!

Helen writes:
Could it be because she is black and her husband is half-black? People need to remember our president did not suffer what is called the “black experience”.

Bakari writes:
Much of white America is still afraid of the race debate. If President Obama shows any hint of racial solidarity, many of his white supporters will run for the hills. The White House can't afford the controversy.

Brian writes:
Obama can not be seen as overly siding with black or minority supporters, it is just a byproduct of being the first black president. A white president would not be viewed negatively if he did the same. Michelle can easily fill the gap and let minorities know that they have a voice in the White House.

Mari in Utah writes:
Oh Jack, please, why bring up race? Don't you know that what's really behind all the anger and hate from the conservatives is that Americans elected and actually like an African-American?! President Obama is not a Black president, he is an American president! He has plenty on his plate. Give him a break, already!

Frank writes:
He's the president. Everything he says is dissected and has implications. She can say whatever she wants because she has NO policy or governmental obligations. Remember when FDR’s wife raised hell? We would not have had the Tuskegee Airmen without her. It’s a bully pulpit. You go girl.

soundoff (129 Responses)
  1. pat in michigan

    because she isn't running for election and I dare any Republicorp to slam her for what she says.She is intelegent and can bring clarity and dignity to the issue without the trappings of backstabbing politics that are everywhere these days.

    February 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  2. Bud Rupert, Reston, VA

    The first lady can afford to be a lttile more outspoken about things then can the President. If the Presidnet weighs in on race issues the perception will be that he is taking sides – especially by whites.
    I can just hear it now. See, I told you he was anti-white.

    So the president has been very wise by not talking about or taking on race issues. It's not part of who he is anyway Jack.

    And I still beleive he is goin g to become a great President

    February 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  3. joan

    Because her husband doesn't have time , he is too busy cleaning up the Bush/Cheney mess. I love the Obama's. Jack! lets talk about Rudy, Bush, & Cheney's buddy on his way to prison for four years.

    February 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  4. Andy in Vancouver, BC

    Why? Because race is a sensitive subject, and its one that, if discussed by a politician, could be used against them, regardless if there's anything negative being said. We live in an age where every word is parsed to death and people feel the need to take umbrage at everything possible. The first lady has the advantage of being around politics but not being a politician, giving her the freedom to speak her mind without having to deal with all of the BS that comes with elected office.

    February 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  5. Tina Texas

    Her husband has to please all the people all the time whereas she don't have to please anyone.

    February 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  6. David Sisters OR

    He just cant go there,he is president of all the people.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
  7. rawotr@sbcglobal.net

    Race is an importation issue in this country. We have to many closet red necks in congress wo need to get over it. They have just about made all or must of us shamed of being an American.
    thank you.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  8. Greg Turman

    The first lady has more content of character than her husband.

    Greg Turman

    February 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  9. Jeff in E. Lyme, CT

    Michelle's upbringing & background most probably exposed her to more racial difficulties than that of Barack. I honestly believe Barack does not see skin color unless he's whacked over the head with it..............and that's how it should be with us all.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
  10. Joan Gilbert-Croteau

    Of all the first ladies, its easy for Mrs. Obama to talk about color because she really represents a great majority of colored people in this country who come from similar backgrounds.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    I hadn't noticed that she was. Race has been made an issue by the Dem party, more than has been justified.

    We all need to just stop allowing every little comment, to set off the race debate. Race isn't an issue for Obama. Performance is.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  12. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    He's half white and we don't talk about this kind of stuff. Darn Jack, I don't know why don't you call him and ask him or better yet, get the truth, and ask her. You know the phone number, it's 214-5454 and by the way tell her hi from me.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  13. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    He's a professional politician and believes like Bush and Clinton, if you don't talk about it maybe it will just go away.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  14. JENNA

    Why is first lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about race than her husband?

    Maybe because she is NOT of mixed races, like her husband.

    I give her kudos for addressing this issue head on.

    Roseville CA

    February 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  15. S, Michigan

    It's probably because for the first time in her adult life she's proud to be an American!! Why is she talking of race? I don't recall Laura Bush or Hillary Clinton talking as much about the white race- shows how obsessed and occupied Michelle O is with her race. One term first lady!

    February 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  16. John from Alabama

    Jack: When President Obama talks about race he is accused of using the race card, but the First Lady is not in an elected office. Mrs. Obama can talk race when it comes to high blood presure, and how diabetes attacks more African-Americans than whites. How more young black men are in prison than white men in our society. She can talk about the high rate of young teen black girls becoming preganut. President Obama knows these things exist, but Mrs. Obama is a better choice to speak to these problems.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  17. Deborah n Texas

    You can't ask anyone that question but Michelle Robinson Obama. She is the only one with that answer, Jack.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  18. JW Georgia

    I don't know why she's more open than he, but imagine yourself as a white man the President of a nation predominately comprised of black people and ask yourself how often you might feel compelled to play the white card.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  19. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    I think he is trying to stay politically correct and doesn't want to appear that he is out to support all the wants of the black community.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  20. Albert K., L.A., CA

    I think the issue of race relations is better addressed by walking the walk, than talking the talk. President Obama is uniting the races through persuasion by example. Think of the impact Michael Jackson had with his special diplomatic gift of uniting a generation on their common ground of the Pop dance floor. Likewise, Obama is uniting a generation on our common ground of hope, change, and the green revolution as opposed to the politics of fear and drill baby drill.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  21. Moe Dallas TX

    Perhaps she is sure of her heritage, does not want to be white, and is proud of her color..

    February 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  22. David Bebeau,Springfield Missouri

    Because she is not the president, Jack

    February 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  23. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    She's not trying to be perceived as a kiss-up, (that's the Obama Girl's job).

    February 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  24. machar7

    Because when you are raised from parents in the south, you know the racial tension,unlike the president heis not a product of thecivil rights movement.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  25. Bizz, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    Probably it is because she is not the president. She doesn't have to worry about stepping on political toes like the president would if he spoke more openly on the subject of race. When he open up his mouth on the Harvard professor incident, just look at all the media attention he received. It was as though the world stopped and there was in any other news.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  26. Janne from NC

    Because shes not the president and people are not picking every word she says to pieces.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  27. Helen

    Could it be because she is black and her husband is half black? People needs to remember our President did not suffer what is called the black experience.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  28. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    Any first lady has more latitude than the President. Can you imagine if Ronald Reagan spoke of consulting Nancy's signs advisor? The Carter's didn't speak the same line, certainly not the Clinton's. Bush 41 was less popular than his wife.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  29. Vickie

    Because no matter what he says to whom, he gets criticized by the far right loonies who aren't mature enough to have a discussion on race.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  30. Don in Iowa

    As our President, Mr. Obama knows this subject has relatively little to do with America's problems. The economy, jobs,housing , environment,energy,education, foreign affairs ,etc. tend not to discriminate based upon race.

    February 19, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  31. Terry, Chandler AZ

    Why the question Jack? Recall his speech on race nearly two years ago during the campaign? Perhaps his best speech ever. Now, not that race is not important, he has the economy and a war taking up his valuable time. And if he did take time to talk about race, the Republicans and those tea people would let it be known that there are more important matters facing the enire country.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  32. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    Her husband should not need to address race he is the President of us all. Michelle can still talk openly about race to help mentor the young and give them hope that they really can do anything they put their mind to do and will.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  33. Ray in Nashville

    Jack, first ladies have always had a bit more leeway to talk about things, like race, than their husbands. I guess they are seen as being harmless, with no real power to do anything.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  34. richp the poconos

    She has smaller feet than her husband, less prone to step on them. He steps on his a lot.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  35. frank

    He's the President. Everything he says is dissected and has implications. She can say whatever she wants because she has NO policy or governmental obligations. Remember when FDRs wife raised hell? We would not have had the Tuskgee Airmen without her. Its a bully pulpit. You go girl.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  36. Lisa Hu

    Probably because Mrs.Obama understands that her words will have less backlash and controversy than the President's will. Mr. Obama's discussions about race will probably be nitpicked and completely mutilated as his opposers will try to find fault with his reasoning. The public cares more about what the President proclaims and not as many pay attention to the First Lady. She has more freedom to voice her true opinions and she won't come under as much fire for her thoughts.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  37. Darren - Detroit

    Because the "Party of No" would love nothing more than to change the topic of conversation from their inactions to one of race.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  38. Helen

    Why should the president talk about race? Remember the beer incident.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  39. Steve Canada

    She is an obviously intelligent black woman who commands respect as her position of first lady. She is a mother who cares and isnt running for election. She is probably one of only a few that can talk intelligently on the subject without being annihilated by the fringes..

    February 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  40. Jim Z..Ft. Worth...Texas

    Jack, this president is so much more than a semblance of color, he is and acts like a President. I have no doubt he still looks in the mirror and realizes he is a black man, that by race, has been driven over a few times throughout our history. The First Lady is more than capable, with her heritage, to hold in her hands what MLK was forced to drop.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  41. Jason, Koloa Kauai

    I think it's pretty obvious who wears the pants in the whitehoues. Obama has been walking the impossibly fine line of trying to please everybody without offending anybody. At least Michelle is not afraid to crack some eggs here and there and hopefully she can light a fire under her man before he becomes a one-term wonder.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  42. art l, rutland, vt

    She's as genuine as diamelles.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  43. Terry

    Jack this is an easy one!
    Michelle isn't a threat to the white society. She has no power. Whereas, President Obama is damned if he do and damned if he doesn't! He simply can't mention race! And for his remaining time in office, he won't! There are right-wing tea-bagging racists and bigots waiting like hawks for him to mentioned race, just to say "look, he's using the race card, what took him so long, Whats next, black reparation." Can you imagine how unfocused America would be with All the right-wing headline news reading "Barack, the black racist." It's so sad, but there are non-whites who are truly afraid that he will use his power to avenge African Americans for the days of slavery. It was no accident that he didn't mention race throughout his entire campaign to avoid the millions of racist Americans.

    Enterprise AL.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  44. Kim Smith, Dodge City, Kansas

    Because she doesn't have to worry about being re-elected to anything. She also doesn't have to worry about lobbyists, PACs, greedy corporate slime bags or political hacks. The First Lady is allowed to speak her mind and I wish it is something her husband would do more often and more candidly.

    February 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  45. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    He is the President of all the people so has to address us all. On the other hand Michelle can have her own agenda and has chosen it.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  46. katiec Pekin, IL

    Well, Jack, I would like to mention that President Obama has his plate full with all the diasters he was dealt. You have complained that he is trying to take on too much, yet never hesitate to criticize him about issues he has not made a priority.
    He is dammed if he does and dammed if he doesn't, with the media being his most critical complainers . And, who better to represent all of the American people than Michelle Obama?

    February 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  47. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville, Texas

    Jack, why are you surprised? He has problems defining policy, why would he be any different defining race?

    February 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  48. Keith - Ohio

    After the president learned that he had to hold a beer summit on the South lawn after playing HIS race card prematurely, he has backed off considerably.

    Michelle, on the other hand, can be more forthright because she has a much larger staff than the president and they can cover up anything that may offend.... That and the fact that no one really cares about what the first lady has to say...

    February 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  49. mario flowers

    because shes not up for any kind of elections

    February 19, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  50. Dennis North Carolina

    the first lady does not set policy and she is not the leader of 400 million people of all back ground like her husband is. when running for office the president promise to have a national meeting on race but has not done this after the election.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
  51. Maria

    She is not responsible to the inernational community for her comments.
    In our history, the Prez' lady has always been able to get messages out to the public with very little repercussions. She's only speaking the truth...and her husband *did* promise openness in his term. She can play into that openness very well, while he has to hold back a little.


    February 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  52. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, I am one of those that believes the first lady is being used as a bridge point for the connection between the communities of color and the administration. Her job is to appease those communities, until a political opportunity presents a situation where the administration can score major political points for some issue dealing with race. I also believe that these communities are totally naive if they believe he understands or even cares about the plights of the inner cities. He is a politician, he cares about power, being in office, and nothing more.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  53. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    She probably feels more comfortable with the topic and can get her point across gracefully.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  54. James in Idaho

    Because unlike her husband, if she gets distracted, the rest of the world doesn't guffaw and gasp at her assessments. She is an intelligent woman to be sure, but she is not the president and does not navigatye policy for the U.S.

    That being said, i wouldnt' mind if she did. She's got her head on straight.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  55. frankie

    Because we Americans don't pick on our First Ladies the way we pick on our Presidents. Her words might even be taken at face value.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
  56. Jerry

    Are you serious? The president barely has enough time to talk about himself and what (he's) going to do.
    Jerry in GA

    February 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  57. Scott Stodden

    Because Jack First Lady Michelle is not a President she's the First Lady Of The United States and more often First Lady's can get away with alot more than what the President can these days. I love First Lady Obama so much, she is kind, sweet, caring, and compassionate and we all love when she speaks! First Lady Obama I commend you so much for all your doing for the country!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  58. Mari, Utah

    Oh Jack, please, why bring up race? Don't you know that what's really behind all the anger and hate from the conservatives is that Americans elected and actually like an African American?!

    President Obama is not a Black president, he is an American president! He has plenty on his plate. Give him a break, already!

    February 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  59. Rosemary Farmer

    My question to you? Why does everyone want him to focus on race?
    Are the Tea Baggers not enough about race for the Media? Why should race come into the picture when the problems facing this country affects all of us, no matter what color we are.

    Should the President from his office say this program is for African Americans, this program is for Asians, this program is specifically speaking to Hispanics, other this one is for the Irish.

    I think this is just something else to criticize President Obama. The other people in the Administration charged with these programs can specifically focus on a problematic area. I disagree with the Media that the President avoids talking about it. I also disagree, that the President ignores it (that includes the Congressional Black Caucus and other Black Leaders).

    Why was the question of race not asked to be spoken about from time to time by the White Presidents? Why is it always a different standard when someone in a Leadership role is a Minority, the RULES CHANGE on how he should talk, walk, etc.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  60. Cheryl

    Obama is trying very hard to be the President to ALL Americans, as he should be. To do it differently, by placing emphasis on race in trying to find problem solutions, goes against that goal. On the other hand, First Ladies have always had their projects – so Michelle is able to this without criticism. They are handling this correctly.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  61. Allen in Hartwell GA

    Jack, who do you see as more threatening, Mrs. Obama or Mr. Obama? Who do you see more people willing to discuss race problems with, Mrs. Obama or Mr. Obama?
    I don't think it's that Michelle is more open to talking about the problem, but rather that they know the public is more open to talking with her about the problem.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  62. Homeless D in Atlanta

    Because people are not as 'scared' of a black First Lady, as they are of a black President.

    It is good that Michelle Obama opens up and talks about what is the TRUTH and does not try to avoid the issues. But she can do so because SHE did not have to go through the election process that put her husband in the White House.

    So, since she does not have a constituancy, she can speak her mind, talk about touchy subjects and not have to worry about a voting group that might get a little touchy.

    BTW, it's about time that SOMEONE talked frankly and quit avoiding any issue that might make someone uncomfortable. And in good English, too!

    February 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  63. stacy st,augustine,fl

    President Obama is the president of people all colors. Leave the race talk to others.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  64. Mical

    I'd rather hear either of the Obamas speak their minds freely than hear any more crap about Tiger Woods, Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson or that flake Sarah Palin. The Obamas have intelligence and I believe the president would rather stay neutral on a topic that isn't a crisis. Palin & her "tea-baggers" speak out on everything that has little or no common sense and Palin is queen of the "politically overspoken"

    Minneapolis, Mn.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  65. Kyle, Irvine, CA

    I think Michelle Obama is speaking for her husband on this issue. If the president comes out publicly about race, it will look like he is using his executive office to attack white people and that would stir up conflict. But if the First Lady talks about anti race, the public will perceive it as a social issue that needs to be dealt with everyday of our lives. In other words, Michelle Obama is more open to talk about race because her husband is the president and she is not.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  66. Phil, georgia

    Republicans are causing so much confusion just with the great things Pres.Obama is trying to do for all Americans so just imagine if he spent some time focusing on minorities,,, Republicans and alot of prejudice whites will have more ammo to not have a Black as president.

    What the President is trying to do is always referred to as "Rhetoric",, an old code word for the black preacher who could talk good but not deliver. Isn't it ironic that Republicans are against everything,, so he can't deliver..... and be considered "Rhetoric"–the back in the day black preacher who could never deliver. Its insane that they can't compromise on Nothing.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  67. Katja in Bradenton, Florida

    Mrs. Obama talks about race easier bacause someone has to. She is a Mother, Daughter, Wife and a very well educated woman. It always seems to fall on the woman to make sure that the family is taken care of.

    How the kids eat is also a huge part of being a Mom. An educated (not necessarily college, but informed) parent knows that the kids cannot live on McDonalds alone. And those kids need to be playing some kind of sport or something to keep them form becoming couch potatoes.

    Sadly, a majority of inner-city parents haven't finished high school. And while most cities/hospitals offer FREE parenting classes, many people will not attend. So the kids grow up fat and lazy, and the cycle begins again. Those kids never got the chance to learn anything different.

    I cheer and support the First Lady for making childhood obesity her cause. Educate the parents, educate the kids. Educate the store owners in the inner-city and maybe things will change.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  68. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    She is better positioned to do so!

    February 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  69. Layne Alleman

    Jack, Must be last-call on Friday afternoon; too easy. He's the President, a politician, and right now, in deep s... , and she's the First Lady. She has to answer to no one but reporters and cheap-shot artists, so why not try to push the barrier. More power to her for doing so. Layne A. Antioch, Il.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  70. becky - Las Vegas

    Barack hasn't or won't address the issue more directly because, sadly in the 21st century, he needs majority white America to ignore the fact he's black. Michelle can address it because it isn't as "necessary" for her.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
  71. Gigi Oregon

    His agenda does not allow time for small talk. That is a media question. And he sends Mrs. Obama to handle those questions.
    My husband who has an inquiring mind wants to know... Are we still at war in Iraq.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  72. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    He is the president of the United States first and foremost. She is a mother first and foremost. Paternal roles and maternal roles both have their own unique contribution. If she follows his presidency with her own, he can adopt the role she now excels at.

    February 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  73. charlie

    I think it is because he is the president, talking about race will only distract public attention away from the bigger issues of th moment the best way is for michelle obama to do it, remember the br summit, am sure obama could have thought of alot better thing t do with his time. Besides whatever he says thr will be a group claiming that he is being unbiased. I mean he is every ones president black, yellow, white, green.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  74. Rebbeca

    Of cousre she is more open about it. She doesnt have to worry about the whole country on her back if she says the word 'Black' or 'White'. But hey, that comes with the package when you become the most powerful man on the planet since America is looked up to. No one knows why she's more open but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that she can get away with it.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  75. Connie Corine

    Mrs. "O" does it because racism, unfortunately, still is a factor in our society. I am a white old woman and never once in my life has anyone ever mentioned to me that I'm white. I cannot imagine what it is like having your race as part of your daily identity. I wear a size 9 shoe. I would get sick to death of being described as Connie, you know the one who wears the size 9 shoe. Connie, she looks pretty good for someone who wears a size 9 shoe. President Obama evidently has enough self esteem and self confidence and sees himself as just a person, no different than anyone else. I never even think about being white. He doesn't think about being black. I wish everyone saw things that way.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  76. Lee

    It’s easier for the first lady and others to speak to this issue then this President. I think that there is a fear of the appearance of favoritism toward afro-Americans in lure of our racial history.

    So the president's approach is to help and speak to the needs of the general public and these other communities benefit too. This is basically true except some of the downtrodden communities need more help than the general public. Not necessarily money but attention and leadership.

    Though hard it may be, if the first afro-American president won’t take this on who will.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
  77. Laura

    Because she doesn't have to worry about isolating voters.
    Hollister, CA

    February 19, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  78. Clarice in VA

    Has 'how policy affects minority communities' come up for Obama and did he shy away from the matter? Seems to me that he can handle any issue that comes up straight on and eloquently, including race. Mrs. Obama must bring up issues of race, region and inequality because it's a part of the whole picture to point out the link between race and obesity.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  79. Theresa

    I think more serious a problem is poverty in all races. It isn't just the African American child that lives in the inner city. I'm certain there are caucasian children that live there also. Maybe a larger % are African American or Hispanic but I think it should be all inclusive.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  80. redeyes

    There is one thing that I have observed in live: It is very easy to criticize others. The faults in other people's lives are so easy to point out. But I think that people must be fair in criticisms. Let us look into our own lives and see whatever accomplishments we have had, whether there was not something better than we achieved. Let us learn to encourage rather than discourage for there will always be mistakes as long as we are humans...........

    February 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  81. Willow, Iowa

    He grew up in international places. Hawaii was very diverse and mixed marriages were very normal there in the early sixties. It probably just didn't come up. Going to school in Thailand or whever he was, it probably wasn't an issue either. He grew up with white Mom and white grandparents, not really knowing his Father's side for a long time. So he probably never really discussed it much.

    Also, every time he opens his mouth, someone raises hell about how horrible he is. So he has to be careful and very tactful. Michelle, growing up in South Side Chicago has had to deal with race all her life. She has an easier time discussing these things, because they have been discussed around her. I love Michelle, I think she's great!

    February 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  82. Hal

    She's not the President. She is able to say what she wants and not have poll numbers showing that she is below 50%!

    February 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  83. Linda in Arizona

    Probably because she grew up in black communities. Obama grew up in Kansas, Hawaii, and Indonesia. I don't think he identifies with being black in America, his community organizing notwithstanding.

    February 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  84. minkyadoo

    Michelle Obama calls it as it is, the president lives in a colorblind world as much as we wish it just doesnt exist. Lets face it race disparity in america is as american as apple pie.

    Virgin Islands

    February 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
  85. Franky, LOVE the Land of Lincoln

    I don't want our President to be the big city tough guy, he should be a modest man for that matter. And she's going there? Again?

    I don't know how much impact she'll have, I don't and I don't care. What makes her care about the African-American community and Hispanic one as well? What makes her categorize both minorities? Let alone, what makes her generalize both of them? All I'm saying since she knows he rhusband is not a man and just a phony, she's just gonna speak up for him and give a good image on him.

    She's a nice woman, don't get me wrong but her telling how we feel is like telling the blog media how do to their job, it just ain't gonna work.

    She should focus on more imprtant issues, like what an everyday or working feminist, traditionalist mom does everyday and the hardhips. Not be critical of our community, let alone of our mishaps. We already got Hollywood for that and you see the results we are getting.

    She's just protecting her man and just diverting the situation to something else, she should be careful. But I do respect her more than her idiotic husband.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  86. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Ask yourself Jack, with any other President was there such a consistent criticism about how much or how little that President has done for the cities or minorities?

    Is it not racist to assume this President should do more because he is black?

    I'm confident Obama will do all and whatever he can to help unite the races, to address any issues, because he is a compassionate human not because he is black.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  87. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    Because she was only proud to be an American a little over a year ago and shes 100% black and hes only 50% black .

    February 19, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
  88. Chris

    Easy answer, Jack. She knows that she is a one time mistake of a politician!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:16 pm |
  89. Curchel Smoot

    Michelle Obama is more likely to talk about race then the President for one reason...She's black! In reality the president, much like Tiger Woods, is biracial. Having been raised by a caucasian Mother and Grandmother he can not, and should not see himself as strickly African-American.

    Curchel Smoot
    New Orleans, LA

    February 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  90. Tom McGrath

    The President has a lot on his plate: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, huge economic challenges, etc.... The First Lady is helping with some of the heavy lifting, which is a good thing. Keep in mind, her last name is Obama.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  91. Max N. P.


    It's very simple. Michelle isn't up for re-election. Her husband is.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  92. Brian

    Obama can not be seen as overtly siding or providing to black or minority supporters, it is just a byproduct of being the first black president. A white president would not be viewed negatively if he did the same. Michelle can easily fill the gap and let minorities know that they have a voice in the white house.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  93. Alisa

    It's simple Jack little to no backlash. if the president starts playing the race card like blacks want him to he will be crucified. Period

    February 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  94. Shirley

    President Obama is already being accused of doing to much. I beleive that havin his wife, a smart and beautful (and so, so real) First Lady of our Nation is a perfect voice for the urban communities. I just love what she is currently doing and all that she will continue to do!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  95. Bakari

    Much of white america is still afraid of the race debate. If President Obama shows any hint of racial solidarity many of his white supporters will run for the hills. The white house can't afford the controversy.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  96. Doris Lauter

    Michelle can support anything she wants to. Obama has stated that he wants to help all people in need, not just the blacks. I applaud him for wanting to include all people in Affirmative Action.
    Our Catholic president didn't support just Catholics.
    Ojai, California

    February 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  97. Jon S.Pridham

    With his numbers dropping and negative image being pushed everyday by the tea bagers and the GOP, and him still trying for bipartisanship in congress, how do you think he would fare if he bought up the issue of race. He for now is doing the right thing, leave that issue for his wife to speak about. It worked for FDR and Eleanor.

    Kittery, ME

    February 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  98. Manny in Phoenix


    The First Lady is smart and pragmatic and doesn't have to worry as much as her husband about the pack of political hyenas who daily howl and whine about him and just about everything he does.We should be proud of her.She has the forthright character lacking in so many in Congress.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  99. Jim Green, TX, www.Inclusivism.org

    Jack...I don;t know if you noticed but unlike virtually every other black in America – President Obama is not the descendant of slaves – and perhaps he just doesn't want his agenda sidetracked by race – he sees the issue as a distraction, and if we are really honest, why should his race be an issue?

    February 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  100. Bernie of Lowell, MA

    President Obama has never been exposed to the racial extremes his wife has. He grew up outside the US; he attended the best colleges... there is no way he really knows how harsh the living conditions still are for non-Englis speaking, non-Caucasian in this country.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  101. greg y.

    Jack, the first lady comes with no pretense; she's for real. I don't think her make up comes with providing politically correct answers that would pain her. She's the perfect compliment to the president who is more calculating, reserved, and always on an all people pleasing mode. The first lady probably has less headaches, she's true to self, and not phony. She tells it like it is.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  102. Skywalker Payne, R.N.

    Michelle has more freedom to address this issue than the President. He represents all of the people of this country. Michelle comes from a totally black background and has a professional history of working with the black community. She also has a manner of speaking that addresses negative issues without alienating those who have not shared in her experiences. I think it's a good division of efforts and that she is being very effective in making people aware of the ongoing struggles of what is called the black underclass. Hopefully, her efforts will lead to economic and social change.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  103. David Harris

    Jack – It's simple: Michelle Obama speaks to these issues because she grew up on the South Side of Chicago, knows the inner cities and knows the challenges many in those communities face. That she has used her position to draw attention to what has been ignored for decades by many (including and most importantly, those in the community) is admirable. Her being the wife of Barack Obama shows the diversity of the African American experience since Barack grew up in a different world, yet his experience is no less legitimate. How beautiful it is to see a tableaux of the African American experience so prominently displayed.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  104. NIda

    Michelle Obama's background makes her more closer to the minority than the half majority President and his majority responsibility

    February 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  105. Joan

    Perhaps, because she is not responsible for leading the nation and the free world; making decisions that impact domestic and global security and economic stability; overseeing policy about the U.S. economy, climate change, education, healthcare, human rights, employment, and the housing crisis–to name a few of President Obama,s must-do-now initiatives–within the shark-infested environment of our recalcitrant legislative system.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  106. shyril

    Give me a break. He cant so he doesnt. She can and so she does. It's quite simple. The Republicans and tea baggers would love to stomp her for it but they are afraid of the backlash. Maybe dumbo Palin will take notice and use her platform to help Down Syndrome kids instead of faking being insulted every time some one opens their mouth.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  107. Leslie

    Pres. Obama is allowing his wife to speak on race because he fears losing supporters. To me this is sad, for him to know the issues that are prevalent in urban America and to shy away from them shows that he is just a politician. If I am passionate about my race and what goes on in the communities I would be making others aware as well. Using Michelle diminishes the effect and allocates race issues to the back of the line as if its not important or to petty for him to speak on. This is disturbing because so many African Americans came out to vote because we believed he would make significant change in our social standards making opportunity fare for African Americans and other minorities but so far nothing. It seems as if he is turning his back on the people who made his presidency possible.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  108. Ted Clopton, Lawton, OK

    1. Michelle Obama is not president
    2. Race is not an issue for Barack Obama
    3. Any questions??

    February 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  109. Sandy

    If President speaks anything publicly about trying to do anything to help African Americans, he will be viewed as a racist and only wants to do something for African Americans. If Michelle says it, it may may not be viewed that way. She was not elected. Racism is a very big problem in this country and Michelle can see it first hand from what her own husband goes thru on a daily basis. They are damned if you do and damned if you don't! The inner cities do need attention and so does the school lunch programs. Again, the President is DAMNED if he do and DAMNED if he DON'T!!!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  110. docb

    When you are black you can not hide who you are..When you walk in the door- they know! Speaking to the issues- children, obesity, community, prejudice are ways of taking on the underground of racism. The President must deal with the World and the National crisis–he must sell what the people need and have ask for in a straight forward undiluted manner.
    She can deal with what the root causes may be! If he did this they would scream reverse racism–when she does it is statement of fact with statistics and pictures to back it up!
    Truth wins!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  111. Ken in NC

    Presiddent Obama is the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES and not the Black President of the United States. He is criticized now just for taking his wife to dinner at tax payers expense. Imagine how his critics would come down on him if he presented the apperance of doing something that would be to the benefit of one race of people. Bush did just that with all the AIDS help to Africa but that's different. A white President can do just that but not a Black President. The FLOTUS can do it too because she has only to make it one of her agendas.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  112. Becky Miller

    Oh, for heaven's sakes, it's obvious that Barack is the leader of an entire diverse nation and thus is constrained in being able to speak out on many controversial issues. He has already spoken about fatherhood in much of the African-American. Michelle is the clear spokesperson for diet in the African American community.

    Becky Miller
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    February 19, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  113. Chris / Sarasota, Florida

    Dear Jack,

    Mrs. Obama is talking more about race for two key reasons of many, one she is not the president, two her husband is the first black president. The president shouldn't be addressing the nation about race when he has the rest of the world to deal with. However his wife, who holds no political status, is the most visible African American in America. She's the perfect person to discuss it, although the fact still remains that whether the president is black or not, they still have the choice, and it is not an obligation of any one of the Obama's to discuss it. The may do so at their own discretion and it is not required.

    Sarasota, Florida

    February 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  114. necia renee

    let's think about what would happen if President Obama started talking about race on a regular basis. First, he is President of the United States of America. That means all of us, every race at every class, income and educational level. He would be attacked, accused of being partial, or even worst. Its not like he needs to add yet another thing to be attacked for. On the other hand, Mrs. Obama has created a role for herself as Mother in Chief that offers a platform to speak about human things from nutrition to human relations. Besides, she is speaking from her experience. If we are honest, we all know he better not address race issues.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  115. Jay in Ortonville, Michigan

    Our President is a tad busy with higher priorities like national security, the economy, unemployment and, oh yeah, a couple of wars. Michelle is best suited to handle this issue, but blaming school cafeterias is ludicrous. They are serving the same meal they served 30 years ago to me, the difference is in my day, there was no Play station, no internet; my parents limited my TV and made me do lots of physical chores beforehand. How many kids these days know how to play "Hide and Seek" ?

    February 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  116. Herndon, VA

    Michelle can say what her husband can't say because she's not subject to the polls and the rules. How can two walk together unless they agree? Obama is a wise man so he deals with the black race quietly by pushing health care for ever american. Statistics show that a larger number of african americans are without insurance.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  117. Mary

    Obama's Mother was white and was raised by white grandparents in Hawaii.Michele Obama is African American and was raised black,by black and have been aware if racism all her life.The POTUS doesn't know anything about it as it was not his journey.He read about it just like we did,she lived it.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  118. lynne j.

    If President Obama goes near the topic of race again, it will be like Beer Gate was last year, blown up to nothing. He'll be further villified by the party of 'No' for bringing it up and bringing the conversation to a stand still before bread has had been broken.

    Until we stop being so nutty (and mostly by the media), there will never be a decent conversation about the issue that continues to be the unspoken cancer of this country.

    Mrs. Obama's approach may be the first steps toward curing it that is if the media doesn't make it worse than it really is

    February 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  119. Marguerite Watson

    Why is First Lady more open to talking about race - WHY NOT????
    The President has been pulled in every conceivable direction there is? You want him to solve the economic woes, you want him to pass health care, you want him to provide more jobs, etc. The minute he would start to devote his time to "race" you'll will be harping about that. I see nothing wrong with Mrs. Obama starting talks re: race.
    Please give this President some slack!!! You'll did not do President Bush like that - you let him get away with anything he wanted to do. If he stepped on a bug - a poll would go out "should he had done that??? You take a poll about anything he does!! LET UP!!!!

    M. Watson

    February 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  120. Barbara

    If President Obama focused on race, he would be under fire with thepress and the "Tea Party"! As a president, he represents all the
    people, and in spite of the fact that race relations in this country are at an all time low (look at the "Tea Party"), the president would be accused of using his presidency to race bait. Personally, though it is avoided by the white house and the press, I believe all the opposition he is facing is largely due to the fact that he is a man of color.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  121. Christopher

    Jack the President has his hands full with Health Care Reform, Was in Afghanistan and the Economt and being brutally criticized. If the preseident speaks on the matter will only bring more criticism and his campaign. I believe Michelle is doing a good job in voicing issues in economically disadvantaged communities that is greatly ignored in Congress and failing to serve the constituency of many Members of Congress.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  122. Betty

    Michelle Obama has the best platform to address race disparity. President Obama addresses race disparity each day he leads America. His great Platform for America is fought daily by the "Tea Baggers", the Republican party, and those with small minds, who are showing they can not handle the thought of an African-American holding the office of President. Remember the ideas Republicans has included in many bills before Congress, and if the President agrees with these ideas, these same people will vote against them.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  123. Michael H. in Albuquerque, NM

    Since Ellenore Roosevelt the first ladies role has been to open discussion on social issues. She is more free to travel the country and speek to people on a face to face level. Like the queen on a chess board the first lady can confront issues at the base, on behalf of the president. Michelle Obama is esspecially effective in her job of discussing race. I think we may have elected the wrong Obama.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  124. Tina Cooper

    Yes, Jack, and she has to, because you guys won't let the President say anything "BLACK" without crucifying him. So go Michelle!!!!

    February 19, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  125. Angie

    It has always been the tradition of the First Lady to find something she is good at, About a subject that is dear to her heart.

    That means to do what she can in serving the American people with that something to the best of her ability.

    And since the issue is about ChildHood Obesity, That issue has touched many children of different races. According to pediatricians, it is not just an issue that only effects minority children.

    Where as the President is the President of all the American people.
    That means every American and all Americans. That is why Obama focuses on doing the best job he can doing his job as President that all other Presidents have done before him. Why should he behave any different? Did we vote for him to just serve a few, or did we vote for him to serve all?

    It seems too many people are upset over nothing.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  126. Lamin

    The issue is that Pres. Obama is trying to please everyone. He constantly tries to be in the middle instead of taking a stand against anything, hence his ineffectiveness as a leader, frankly he has been a very BIG disappointment

    February 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  127. necia renee

    Jack, because its a good use of the "Bully Pulpit" for her. Any subject that can improve human relations by open discussion is welcome during these tense trying days. I am glad to hear both of them remind us we are human, American, Community, and need each other.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
  128. Jon

    The answer is very simple but extremely unpalatable for too many of our fellow Americans: people, in general, prefer to fixate on the symbols of change more than the substance thereof. Symbols have the tendency to conceal as much as they clarify. In America, many of our citizens mistakenly presume that the civil rights legislation of the 1960's and the election of Barack Obama says something of substance not only about the actual racial/cultural maturity of white folk, but the real (everyday) opportunities available to the "invisible majority" of black folk in this country. Correcting this paradox requires more courage than cowardice, and an environment in which speaking truth to power on matters of race no longer leads to the historically ubiquitous trend: banishment, isolation, and in a word–"whitelisting."

    February 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  129. Justin Andrews

    Michelle can do as she feels, she should not feet inhibited by what she should talk about openly because she is black.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm |