[Posted by WLS]
Michelle Obama’s speech is going to slip away like ether into the atmosphere in the next 24 hours. Before it does I want to take a look at some of the actual words she spoke. The quality of a presentation can sometimes interfere with a listener’s understanding of what is being said. There is no question that Michelle Obama delivered a very eloquent speech last night. But what did she really say when you look at the text?
First, overall, as I’ve seen mentioned in a couple of places, the text of the speech represented a concession by the campaign that MO is a net vote loser in the role of campaign surrogate. Last night’s speech could have been given by Laura Bush, and its text and tone was significantly different from the stump speech she gives at campaign stops. Lets see which Michelle reappears on the campaign trail starting next week.
Next, I was struck by this line:
that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do…
Talk about leading with your chin — I guess they expect everyone to just forget about the campaign finance pledge, and his vow to the left wing of his own party to filibuster the FISA reform. What’s that “bond” made from — clay? I’m sure there are many other examples that could be worked into a commercial.
And then there was this:
And as our friendship grew, and I learned more about Barack, he introduced me to the work he’d done when he first moved to Chicago after college. Instead of heading to Wall Street, Barack had gone to work in neighborhoods devastated when steel plants shut down, and jobs dried up.
This is simply a blatant lie — and it seems to even lack the kind of fudge on timing that might make it literally true. Obama graduated from Columbia in the spring of 1983, but didn’t go to Chicago until 1985. Here is what he said in the commencement speech he delivered in place of Ted Kennedy at Wesleyan Univ. in May:
But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me —hard work, honesty, empathy — had resurfaced after a long hibernation. . . .
I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of. And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings. My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school. My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street. Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car.
And I said yes.
But Obama didn’t start his community organizer job until June 1985. From his graduation in 1983 until June 1985, he did work for a NY business — a publishing, research, and consulting company called Business International Corporation.
Maybe the literal truth of her speech comes from the fact that BIC’s address wasn’t on “Wall Street.”
I’ll update this later when I have more time.
[NOTE from DRJ 8/27/2008:
There is a debate Foo Bar objects in the comments regarding WLS's statement of Barack Obama's employment from 1983-1985. According to this New York Times' article, Obama worked at Business International Corporation for a year after his graduation from Columbia University. He spent his second year in New York working at the New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit organization.
In addition, Patterico asked me to clarify that, if the New York Times article is correct, WLS overstated the length of Obama's initial employment by a year. Regardless, WLS was dead-on in his observation that Michelle Obama's speech was misleading.]