Bil Browning

First Lady Booed at NASCAR Event

Filed By Bil Browning | November 21, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: First Lady, Ford 400, Jill Biden, Michelle Obama, NASCAR

First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden attended yesterday's Ford 400 "to honor military troops and families and recognize new commitments by companies planning to hire and train veterans and military spouses." The intertubes, however, are abuzz that the crowd didn't seem in the mood to honor the two women. They were booed, dammit!

If you watch the video, it's hard to hear the boos amongst the cheers. Some are claiming racism as the motive behind the catcalls, but when I watch the video I could swear that Jill Biden is white. Maybe I have the same problem Steven Colbert has - I just don't see color.

Hyperbolic outrage aside, is it possible that there's a lot of unhappiness with the President currently and his poll numbers have consistently shown that disapproval? Could it be that the color of her skin doesn't have nearly as much to do with some of the crowd's surliness as her husband's policies?

Is it fair? Hell no. Is it a mammoth racist crowd practically pelting the First Lady with rotten tomatoes? Hardly. It's a time honored tradition of expressing disapproval. They booed. Get over it.

We use the same technique against right wingers we don't like. Pot meet kettle. Mountain meet molehill.

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I don't think this is about racism -- but I do think it is about political polarization.

Needless to say, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden did not deserve to be boo'ed -- promoting reading and education, working for nutritious healthy school meals, and fighting childhood obesity is not exactly an affront on the American conservative way of life ...

This is about power pure and simple ... The Repugs are not in power at the moment, they are pissed about it, and they are out to demonize whoever is in power. Period.

But I do not think it is equally tit-for-tat, Bil, as you remark. I think there is a level of hatefulness from the Right that the Left does not reflect back. The Left tends to value individual expression the same way that conservatives value conformity, and I think that the progressives recognize a "right to be conservative" more fully than the Right recognizes a "right to be liberal".

But I could be wrong.

Surely the White House knows what a conservative atmosphere reigns at NASCAR races. Surely the two women are politically savvy enough that they knew what they were in for, and were willing to risk a few boos from part of the crowd in order to show respect for the armed forces. Think about it -- there were lots of other events they could have gone to, to make this gesture, where they wouldn't have been booed. Maybe the White House felt that it would score the Dems some points to have Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden show up at the Ford 400.

It has come to a point where support for public education has become an enemy of the right. Look at how teachers' unions are being demonized and non-teachers (cheaper, and only committed for a couple of years) are being thrust upon the schools. The right wants vouchers to send their kids to religious right schools and charter schools that are often controlled by for profit businesses and have selective admissions---meaning it is easy to exclude the children they don't want. As for nutrition, just last week the Republicans tried to recycle Ronald Reagan's "ketchup is a vegetable" effort at cutting the cost of feeding children on free lunch by allowing the small dab of tomato sauce on one of their styrofoam (taste them, you will agree) school pizzas as a vegetable. Some are even advocating that if a parent does not come to PTA the child will be starved, i.e. deprived of his or her free lunch, sometimes the only meal they get.

After the Republicans booed a gay soldier for asking about Don't Ask, Don't Tell at one of the debates, I think they will stop at nothing to get their way and could easily step into violence. Well actually they have with the anti-abortionists killing health care providers.

Jill and Michelle were brave to go to the NASCAR races. I think they also took the children. But they were also in danger. These folks are no less dangerous than the Taliban and could go into violence almost as easily. At the same time, they need to appear at other conservative gatherings because there are those on the fringe of conservative extremism who might jump to the good side if given enough exposure.