Home / Uncle Teddy Rocks The DNC, While Michelle Rolls Out The Family

Uncle Teddy Rocks The DNC, While Michelle Rolls Out The Family

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On Monday night at the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy rocked, speaking to an adoring crowd. His arrival in Denver could not be kept under wraps, and he had said nothing could keep him away. He was introduced by Caroline Kennedy, who delivered an inclusive, informative, and interesting speech. Yes, Uncle Teddy is not just the lion of the senate but the heart of the Kennedy clan. He has touched everyone’s lives, from the small to the great.

Teachers will forever be in his debt for “NCLB,” and the near-elimination of special education and other subgroups that were floundering, failing, and left behind in the classrooms. Someday, even “tracking” and racial segregation will be a thing of the past in public schools. Interestingly, Caroline did not outline, nor mention, Sen. Kennedy’s collaboration with George Bush on their seminal legislation that put No Child Left Behind into law — too controversial? Or was mum the word on the GOP and George Bush Monday night? For this and for many other reasons Monday night was criticized for being a “waste of the night.” How can that be?

All About the South Side of Chicago

We are all proud Chicagoans. From Jesse Jackson, Jr. who served as an Obama national co-chair, to the diva Jennifer Hudson to my sister and her family, who call Hyde Park home. She called me after the Kennedy tribute. Then I called her after Michelle Obama spoke.

I asked her, “Did you ever think that regular folks from the south side of Chicago would be on the DNC podium speaking about their upbringing?” My family also grew up on the south side of Chicago, probably not far from the Robinson family. They might have been in a grittier neighborhood, but the struggle was the same. Two working parents, non-college educated. We lived in Chatham, filled with hard-working, salt-of-the-earth types wearing both blue collar and blue suits.

As kids, we never dreamed of attending Harvard. We never discussed it at home, and, on Monday night, neither did Michelle Obama. An Ebony article reports that Craig Robinson first went to Harvard and that Michelle followed him there. This is not what ordinary folks do, let me tell you. It is also not something that Harvard people do upon first meeting them. There is an old joke that goes, first they tell you their name, then that they went to Harvard.

We know the Jarrett name so, after a convention interview with Valerie Jarrett who was called “the other side of Obama’s brain” I had questions. So I asked my sister, where it’s a case of “I know you know” anybody who grew up in Chatham or went to Catholic school in Chicago. I thought that Valerie and Bobby Jarrett were the children of the late Vernon Jarrett. I was wrong. My sister said Valerie was married to Bobby, and that he was friends with my brother, and part of his social club in high school. My sister said that in fact, Valerie had married and divorced Bobby, but must have retained the name. He died about five years ago, age 41, after they had divorced. Valerie is only one of the well-disciplined, tough Chicago natives who have helped Obama find his voice.

Playing the “Who’s the Most Liberal" Game

If you listen to conservative radio and TV as I do, you understand how the opposition is framing its argument. You would also be familiar with the games played: who’s liberal and who’s not. Michelle was roundly criticized for reciting the recipe for left-wing liberalism, socialism and pseudo-communism. One conservative observer pointed out Michelle’s liberal upbringing when she spoke of her mom’s concern: “Why aren’t the most educated among us returning to give back, work in the community they left?” Michelle said her mom’s words lighted the path she would later follow. In fact, this is often cited as pathology in the black community — lack of role models within inner cities.

Juxtaposing the right and left for a moment, we find that while both espouse a deep work ethic, the conservative is likely to: start a company, work in corporate America, not pay taxes and live in the community they grew up in or fled to when minorities moved into the old one. They do not bear the burden of their brother. No, that’s the job of the left or the liberal among us. So when Rush Limbaugh talks about teachers and American education (read indoctrination) he is talking about the (mostly white women) who are liberals, Democrats.

Who Are We Exactly?”

Enter Michelle. It was her job to answer that question in full measure to the satisfaction of the doubting/voting public. Did she accomplish it? I think the speech was designed to dispel rather than to appeal. She said for instance that “Barack had a funny name.” I found that quip disingenuous. Why did she not recognize it as African? Did she not grow up in Chicago where the shift to African names took root? In the 1970s, African names for black children were in vogue. By the 1980s, this meme was cultural. Only in recent decades, in imitation of this practice, did single black mothers begin to invent names and create spelling that launched the familiar “black names.” The Obama family has to define itself and not be shy about it. That definition begins with your name.

So it begs the question: Was Michelle Obama ready for prime time America? Or were we watching the genesis of a new spin master?

What is the job of a spin master? Ask Hill or Bill. Hillary did not say, in her speech, that Obama was “ready to lead on day one.” But who expected a well-prepared, first black president? I didn’t. I mean, they just let us into the Senate! The Democratic party, according to Jesse Jr., still has a long way to go in terms of numbers. He gave it away in an interview, when he said that “we are a small party.” Meaning that it’s a numbers game, and right now the GOP is winning. Thus the Dems can ill afford the loss of Hillary’s 18 million votes.

Clearly, Michelle Obama was not enthusiastic during the Clinton speeches. I watched her watch them — their rousing speeches, which were not perfect, but which were damn good, elicited only polite applause and an occasional smile from her. We know that Michelle is capable of the big smile, the big personality. We saw her feelings and now can imagine her role in the VP choice. Here’s the spin: was it Michelle who rotated Barack away from Hillary as VP choice? What’s more, did he take her advice? If this argument proves true, and the Democrats do not win in November, a candidate’s wife and the wife of a president could have cost the ticket the White House.

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About Heloise

  • I can’t believe anyone would think that Hillary would have been the proper choice for VP. Between her an Bill, they had the potential of overshadowing Obama simply owing to their long standing visibility.

    It also seems as though all those who went on about all of Hillary’s negatives, all of her baggage, etc., now just seem to forget all that.

    Were any of you in Obama’s position, would you want a running mate who had a very real ability to upstage you?


  • Clavos

    I hope so, but no landslide, Hillary or no.

    Although Hillary likely would have helped to make it close to one.

    He really blew that call, IMO.

  • BN


    I admire and appreciate your enthusiasm, your optimism regarding the up coming election, and how intensely analytical you are regarding the hailstorm of an election. This is indeed a historical moment, a precedent in American politics. But landslide? The bottom line is a black man is running against a white in America. Is it possible the liberal whites who support Obama now will do the right thing in November?

    I hope so, but no landslide, Hillary or no.

  • Heloise

    I just wanted him to put Hillary on the ticket. So we could get our landslide! We will have to settle for a mudslide instead!

    Heloise AKA Net

  • Okay – he tried to get her out…then he went home and slept it off?

    And what do you suppose the odds are of a grand jury indicting a Kennedy for anything in MA is??? Slim and none come to mind…

    I don’t really feel gratified by it…I think he should have gone to jail…but nothing about it gratifies me…

    Yeah, I probably have made a few assumptions on what exactly happened that night…as did the grand jury…

    And wow, what an appropriate punishment for vehicular manslaughter…lose your license for a whole year!

  • Bullshit!

    These are all your assumptions. There are no FACTS (remember those?) supporting your charges. None! According to Kennedy, the ONLY witness to the accident, he made efforts to get to the car, but failed. Remember that Kennedy suffered serious back injuries in a plane crash 4 or 5 years earlier.

    A grand jury was convened and returned no indictments. An investigation found that Kennedy had approached the bridge at too high a speed which resulted in his loosing control of the car. There was no proof found that he was in fact drunk at the time. Kennedy’s drivers license was suspended for a year. All of your assumptions about the incident are just that, assumptions. Since it’s obvious that you hate the guy, it works for you to pander those assumptions as fact.

    It’s pretty much always right wingers who take pleasure in bludgeoning the left with so called “facts.” But in this case, it’s apparently more convenient and personally gratifying to overlook the provable facts so that you can use your fictions to lambast Kennedy.


  • “the conservative is likely to: start a company, work in corporate America, not pay taxes and live in the community they grew up in or fled to when minorities moved into the old one. ”

    I take exception to your narrow view of someone who is conservative.

    Anyone who is in business pays taxes. There are plenty of liberals in business, that are multimillionaires, in fact. And plenty of liberals fled decaying inner cities during the so-called “white” flight.

  • B-tone – you’re kidding right? How would you characterize leaving a woman to drown in a car you drove off a bridge?

    And please tell me, what’s the positive position? He didn’t mean it? It wasn’t his car? He didn’t know she was still alive? He was to drunk to know better? What positive position could there be for murder? She pissed him off so she deserved it?

    As far as I’m concerned Teddy Kennedy is no better than OJ! They both got away with murder!

  • Arch Conservative

    Senator Chappaquiddick is no uncle of mine either Andy.

  • Oh, puleeeeeze! Nothing was ever proven about that incident. You’ve simply taken the negative position because it suits you. Was it his most shining hour? Certainly not. But to characterize the incident as you have is unfair and unproven.


  • Uncle Teddy? He’s no uncle of mine. Nobody in my family ever killed a woman driving drunk off a bridge and leaving her to suffocate in a car!

    But you’re right, he has touched some lives…especially those of the Kopekni family!

    You dems sure do love your pols…no matter how screwed up they may be!

  • My god. You really are making a hurricane out of the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. You are so stuck on Hillary that all else pales.

    Hillary lost! She lost, not because of dirty tricks. She lost because she didn’t win enough delegates. Period.

    Michelle didn’t smile broadly enough? And would you given the circumstances? Michelle knew how important Hillary’s and Bill’s speeches were to fence mending within the party. She was certainly privy to everything that had gone down between her husband’s and the Clinton camps. Had the Clintons NOT delivered as they did, had they been less than enthusiastic, had they appeared less than sincere, it could have been devastating to Barack, his campaign and the Democratic party.

    To their credit, the Clintons DID deliver. But it is hardly difficult to understand that Michelle was on pins and needles during both of their speeches. What I saw in Michelle’s face was relief and gratefulness. That she wasn’t visibly giddy in her response to the Clinton speeches is not a surprise.

    Anyone still holding out, threatening to vote for McCain or just not vote at all are wasting a golded opportunity. The Democratic platform holds more important planks dealing with women’s issues than any other in history. Should McCain be elected, it is more than likely that he will install conservative justices in the SC to implement the reversal of Rowe v Wade.

    McCain will maintain the conservative social agenda of the Bushies not to mention the status quo in Iraq and Afghanistan. If spiting Obama is more important to people than the future of women and the welfare of the country, then they are, to put it kindly, exceedingly selfish and very foolish.

    I understand that women had high hopes for a Clinton presidency. I was behind Clinton for some time during the primary campaign. Had she managed to withstand the Obama juggernaut and wrested the nomination from him, I would be solidly behind her. But she didn’t. Obama’s the guy. Those who share Obama’s ideology and/or that of the Democratic party choose not to support him during the campaign and/or with their vote, will be turning their backs on this country simply to satisfy their desire for some kind of idiotic revenge.