It is one of the sad things about this Presidential race that Barack Obama’s opponents tend to attack him by attacking people around him. First the Reverend Wright and now his wife Michelle. This morning in The Times, she opens herself up for a full scale profile that is a must read, especially for those hit job artists that are trying to caricature an amazing woman.
“You are amazed sometimes at how deep the lies can be,” she says in an interview. Referring to a character in a 1970s sitcom, she adds: “I mean, ‘whitey’? That’s something that George Jefferson would say. Anyone who says that doesn’t know me. They don’t know the life I’ve lived. They don’t know anything about me.”
Her path has led her from the poor part of Chicago, where her father was a pump operator for the city water department to Princeton and Harvard Law and on to one of Chicago’s biggest law firms. And then she decided to return to her community.
Eventually, she started the Chicago chapter of a training program called Public Allies. One day, looking for young leaders, she might knock on doors at Cabrini-Green, a public housing project so violent and neglected it would later be mostly demolished. Another day, she discovered Jose A. Rico, a young Mexican so alienated that he insisted on remaining an illegal immigrant rather than pursue citizenship. What is your goal? he recalled her asking.
To open a high school for Latinos, he replied. Mrs. Obama nodded: Good, tell me exactly how you would do it.
“Michelle was tough, man; she let nothing slide,” said Mr. Rico, now principal of Multicultural Arts High School in Chicago, which he helped start.
She preached the gospel of the second and third chance, insisting that the white youth from Swarthmore work alongside the former gang member.
At the end of the fall, when it comes time to vote, America will understand that this is an amazing woman who will bring qualities of compassion and intelligence to the White House.
“You know, if someone sat in a room with me for five minutes after hearing these rumors, they’d go ‘huh?’ ” she says. “They’d realize it doesn’t make sense.”
She extends her long arms, her voice plaintive. “I will walk anyone through my life,” she says. “Come on, let’s go.”
Personally, I’m ready to accept her invitation.