Michelle Obama: Star of the RNC and, Perhaps, the DNC

PHILADELPHIA — When you want to put on a memorable show, you cast a superstar to get it started. Is anyone surprised to see a Michelle Obama speech scheduled for Monday, Day One of the Democratic National Convention?

Without even attending the convention the Republicans just wrapped up in Cleveland, the first lady found a way to dominate in the most visible way possible; her words anchored the prime time speech of Melania Trump. Like many women of all political persuasions I’ve interviewed through two terms of President Barack Obama and his family in the White House, the wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump found inspiration and something relatable in Michelle Obam

 

Spotlight Elections: What’s Next America?

When Barack Obama gave the speech that made him famous at the 2004 Democratic National Convention – and doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago – it wasn’t just America that noticed. The words he spoke, the sentiment he expressed provided hope for the world: “Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over 200 years ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…’”

Obama’s campaign for president, with the message of “Hope and Change,” was felt not only in the US but was truly international. In Germany in 2008, Obama closed a main thoroughfare when he appeared. The French president all but endorsed him.

It was also what Barack Obama, who would become the first African-American U.S. President, represented. Obama was and is a man of the world. In his example and election, not once but twice, America set an example to aspire to, a country stumbling to find its better self – eventually. In travels, other countries marveled, and had to ask – with an obvious answer — if a member of a discriminated minority closer to home could rise so far.

What a difference eight years make.

Why Obama’s Vision of ‘One American Family’ Matters

President Obama rose to the occasion. In a Dallas speech that started with a joke about the first lady’s love of Stevie Wonder and quickly grew solemn, the president included everyone, and asked something of everyone, as well. He acknowledged his own humanity and imperfections and asked those on all sides to do the same.

And he reminded those listening, at least those with the “new heart” and “new spirit” the Lord promised Ezekiel, that he is a leader who cherishes the promise of America. For someone whose faith has been questioned, the president always reaches deep into Scripture for comforting messages.

 

A Call for a Collective Mourning

Yes, it is possible to be saddened by both the senseless attack that murderedDallas police officers and wounded police and civilians, and the killings of twoAfrican American men in incidents that did not need to end in death.

The fact that that very reasonable and obvious statement needed to be plainly said makes me sad, too – sad for a country that is so hardened into partisan camps that many have even compartmentalized their mourning.

Will ‘Campaign Trail Obama’ Energize Black Women for Hillary?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In his two successful presidential campaigns, President Barack Obama enjoyed the unequivocal support of black women—even those not named Michelle.

African-American women had the highest voter turnout rate than any other group in 2008 and 2012, and thus an outsized say in the result—and not just by flexing their influence at the ballot box.

Many African-American women did the tough work of registering voters,canvassing neighbors and relatives and making sure not to miss the beauty salons and barbershops, and those supporters included celebrities such as Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, who made the rounds in Charlotte in 2012.

To win in 2016, the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton cannot just rely on the gaffes of her apparent opponent Donald Trump. She needs to energize the Obama electorate, and, while the young people on that list flirted with her primary competition Bernie Sanders and have not historically been the most reliable voters, African-American women have already shown their historical dependability.

Hillary Clinton and Obama Together This Time in N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was all good between these two this time, with President Barack Obama at first taking a literal back seat to Hillary Clinton onstage as she made her case. That also meant he was the closer, one who laced his Tuesday speech with endorsements, humor — much of it directed at “the other guy” — and repeated pleas for the crowd to get out and vote for the woman he said “won’t waver, won’t back down, won’t quit.” Obama said: “Those things matter.”

It mattered to an enthusiastic and diverse crowd of thousands in Charlotte that clearly loves this president and yelled exactly those sentiments to him from time to time. A line that wrapped around the Charlotte Convention Center started in the morning. He was the star who relished being back on the campaign trail, this time as cheerleader-in-chief, leading a chant of HILL-A-RY, HILL-A-RY for the first stop on the “Stronger Together” tour in the battleground state of North Carolina.

 

Obama and Clinton Made History, No Matter How You Feel About Either One

Yes, I hear it. Barack Obama, with roots in Kansas and Kenya, Hawaii and Indonesia, was not really like most African Americans, so he didn’t count. (This year, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, backed by Rupert Murdoch, claimed the authentic black “experience” for himself, dismissing Obama altogether.) And Hillary Clinton , as the wife of a former president, with a lengthy political resume and a reputation for bare-knuckled dealings, is not your average female candidate, whatever that means, so she doesn’t count. (Young women who felt disconnected from her because “she’s a woman, big deal” were the go-to subject of endless think pieces this primary season.)   – See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/opinion/obama-and-clinton-made-history-no-matter-how-you-feel-about-either-one-2#sthash.nEOAqPCU.dpuf

Christ Is Risen, But Campaign Discourse About Faith Has Fallen

Fewer Americans are flocking to religion, but you wouldn’t know that from the current presidential election cycle.

The politics of Washington are on pause for Easter break, but the campaign trail does not relent. And despite our separation of church and state, religion has been front-and-center this election season, often in ways that emphasize division rather than reconciliation.

 

When GOP staffer put Obama children ‘at a bar,’ it continued American tradition of trashing black females’ morality

In keeping with the Christian theme of her self-serving apology, Elizabeth Lauten has blessedly resigned from her post as the communications director for Rep. Stephen Lee Fincher (R-Tenn.). She had said prayer showed her the error of her ways, though one would think she would not need a higher power to tell her that trashing Malia and Sasha Obama for dress and demeanor at a turkey pardoning was not the best idea.

But tucked into the usual partisan sniping of her original Facebook comments and expected swipes at President Obama and Michelle Obama through their children was something deeply disturbing and unsettling. Her rant against the girls read, “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar.” Let that sink in. She placed two children ages 13 and 16 in a bar, a very adult setting – a place where you can drink, flirt and, in some cities, smoke.

That’s not frivolous, but insidious. And it’s nothing new. Lauten’s mind traveled back to a disgusting place and time, when black women were disrespected, denied a spot on the pedestal of virtue white women occupied. Those views – apparently alive and well – excused the abuse and disregard of human beings judged not worthy of respect or consideration by people who prayed as hard as Lauten says she does.

Obama visit adds heat to contentious and crucial North Carolina Senate race

About the only thing that’s certain about North Carolina’s crucial Senate race is that it’s close. Polls show a tight contest, with Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and her Republican opponent Thom Tillis exchanging slim leads. It’s not even clear what the November midterm will be about.

Is it a nationalized election, with Hagan tied to a president with low approval numbers? Will Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House, be weighed down with dissatisfaction over a sometimes dysfunctional state legislature? Will the economy be the ruling issue or will education, health care and the environment, major North Carolina concerns, rise in importance? What role will social issues — abortion and same-sex marriage — play in turning out the base in both parties?

If this past week was an indication, the answer is maybe – or perhaps, all of the above.