The ancient Greek philosopher, Diogenes, famously carried a lantern as he looked futilely for an honest man. We’re talking over 2,000 years ago, so maybe we can put the current media hysteria about fake news in perspective.
However, the reality is that many of us today see reporters, TV hosts, bloggers and columnists as partisan propagandists. We view media outlets as centers of distortion, censorship and hypocrisy. Our conclusions are not without reason.
In the days when debate was actually a clearly defined skill, people recognized that being able to see your opponent’s point of view was necessary to argue your own case well. At the time of America’s founding, while there was propaganda and misinformation, there was even more learned debate and published material arguing for various perspectives. How amazing that Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or the Federalist Papers were read and discussed by everyday citizens (or citizens to be) not by obscure academics!
These observations led me to spend an hour listening to Oprah Winfrey’s interview with First Lady Michelle Obama. I had been struck by the contrast between highly negative articles including quotes from the interview and glowing reports of the interview on platforms from opposite sides of the political aisle. Not surprisingly, the comments under each article mostly shared the opinions expressed. I didn’t see anyone mentioning a few good points and a few troubling one. Everything I saw presented an analysis that was black or white as well as predictably in line with the author’s political views. I wanted to make up my own mind rather than have it made up for me.
Here’s my take after hearing the interview. First of all, this interview was not meant to be an incisive or confrontational political piece. It was meant to be a friendly, personal look into Michelle Obama’s life and feelings at the end of two terms in the White House. She was warm, charming, intelligent and articulate. If the interview was my only exposure to her or her husband and if I automatically accepted everything she said as gospel I would have a glowing view of the past eight years.
Yet, that would be foolish of me. Oprah and Mrs. Obama spoke of the inclusiveness of the White House during those years. They ignored the religious Christians and Jews, police officers and gun owners (among others) who felt marginalized during those same years. Michelle Obama spoke of the hope her husband gave America and seemed unaware of the despair the entered the country which contributed greatly to her husband’s successor’s defeat. Anyone who heard the vitriol directed at Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan or who has read of Rachel Jackson’s name being dragged through the mud might hesitate before acting as if every other First Lady was treated with kid gloves. I think that I’d be naive to accept Mrs. Obama’s perspective as my reality, but I I also think it was unnecessary to bash her for her words extolling the administration. First Ladies have traditionally been publicly supportive of their husbands and it is not news to me that her views are distorted by the agenda she follows (as is true for most of us).
I did not find her whiny for recognizing that along with great benefits, living in the White House has certain drawbacks. Her love for her daughters was admirable and I appreciated her words in support of military families even if I fault her husband for not taking care of the soldiers under his command. In other words, I heard a gracious woman present a skewed view of life according to her understanding. It isn’t mine and I would object to it being presented in a classroom without analysis, but I’m tired of hearing sentences lifted from the larger picture (something she herself did in the interview when it came to President-elect Trump) and treated as if that was the whole story. Wouldn’t it be nice to find honesty in reporting again rather than having to choose one’s bias and read only articles that either support or revile that view?
22 thoughts on “Searching for an Honest Woman”
Thank You Susan … I am new to “musings” … I have been watching Rabbi and you for quite some time and look forward to it daily and record it … I have for many years studied/read/appreciated the Jewish side of our Judeo/Christian faiths, particularly the Old Testament. I am so pleased to have discovered Rabbi Lapin and am learning so much from him. He is the best Rabbi on TV. and with you by his side it makes for wonderful, educational, fun viewing. Now I have discovered “Musings” so I am very content. Say hi to the Rabbi for me. God Bless You and Shalom ( please let me know if this is the correct usage of this beautiful word )
Perfect use of the word shalom. Glad to have you as a Musings reader.
Hello Susan and Happy Chanukah to you and all your loved ones. When I read your musings, I have hope. I’m given a sense of relief that not all of the country has lost their collective minds. I tried to watch the interview with Oprah and Mrs. Obama but to be honest, I just could not self inflict the feelings of anger and resentment I feel for both her and her husband voluntarily. As Mrs. Obama spoke about “hopelessness” I felt a selfish sense of equality. I have felt hopeless for the past 8 years, many times driven to the point of tears because I couldn’t seem to do anything about the disgrace to our country all by myself. I’ve had to sit back and watch our precious country lose her God-given blessings thanks to policies and actions by this administration. The treatment of Israel has caused me so much grief, I am ashamed. It really bothers me that there are people in Israel who might think since America elected Obama, then we must as a majority, feel and think as he does. IT’S JUST NOT TRUE! I’ve actually written letters to PM Netanyahu to apologize for my country! Anyway, your article was well done, to the point and still respectful. You’re awesome, Mrs. Lapin!
God’s greatest blessings to you and all you love.
What spurred me to watch was an older woman I know who is not particularly politically involved who commented how lovely the interview was. I really tried to watch it from her perspective – without dragging the ‘baggage’ of my political knowledge with me. BTW – the Israelis we know, who do tend to be on the conservative side, have no trouble distinguishing between the administration and the American people. To their consternation, it is often a subgroup of American Jews who lead the anti-Israel movements. There’s something for everyone to be ashamed about!
As I heard on radio commentary two days ago, in a sense all news can be untrue. But we have never before seen the perversion of journalism of the past 8-9 years, wherein the Leftist slant is so blatant, sinister and shameless. NPR has become National Propaganda Registry, and listeners will inevitably cancel out their left-brains. Your Musing is right on target, Ms. Susan, for the rabid Left has done everything to advance their sacred cause. Included is their attack the benign Judaeo-Christian tradition by second-guessing and smearing every doctrine or custom that we hold dear. And they seem to protect and oft to glorify Islam, a useful strategy to hack away at our pillar of belief. Lurking in plain sight is the Progressive Thought Police, who would enforce with their Political Correctness not only our actions, but our very thoughts.
But yesterday I was in my local supermarket and I encountered a dairy clerk, one of our favorites, who always has a kind word for everybody. He was hearing out a lady customer, who was bemoaning the loss of ‘Merry Christmas.’ He replied to her: ‘The NEW President will certainly banish Political Correctness and see to it that Christmas greetings will survive.’ I was so touched. AMEN. Let it be so for all people of faith!
Happy Chanukah to you and yours, Mrs. Susan and Rabbi Lapin! Please remember me and my family when you light one menorah candle.
Thank you, Susan.
I enjoyed reading your article, Susan. Thank you. Clearly, even with your graceful article (which is clearly a ‘musing’ as stated in “Susan’s Musing’s”) isn’t without pushback in one form or another as I read between the lines in the other comments. Sheesh. For goodness sakes!
I do agree with you in your article and appreciate your candid response. Truth is, those who often preach ‘tolerance’ are often intolerant themselves. It’s irrelevant who I once voted for and who I did/did not vote for this election cycle.
What is relevant is the necessity for an amicable and supportive transition to take place for the new administration and the realization that attempting to make partisan propagandist philosophy- policy…will surely result in failure.
Our founding fathers were able to create a thriving free country of hope and a living constitution to protect all people- out of theology, not philosophy. They were wise enough to understand the difference between making our country one of a republic vs one of a democracy. A history of philosophy before them proved the difference.
I’m not Oprah or FLOTUS and I’m not going to try and paint the last 8 years with rosy colored glasses. It’s not rocket-science explaining how the last 8 years weakened America, though it may be rocket-science trying to explain how it made America “stronger than ever” to the world.
Indeed, being FLOTUS is a tough job and a position that does need to emulate the kind, compassionate and understanding side of the administration.
As a result, though limited, I am grateful for Mrs. Obama’s service and dedication and sacrifice as a mother and wife. I appreciate that she has extended her helping hand to the new administration and pray that she means it whole-heartedly. From what she has shown of her charachter thus far, I belive she will. I only pray for the same with Mr.Obama and our new president.
Ask an Indian about the fore-fathers and you will appreciate our holding on to this continent we call Turtle Island. It has not been bloodless, but throughout history man has always sought to stomp out the things that are not uncertain.
I also appreciate that you wrote your opinion and that you spoke of Mrs O’s love of family. I did not see the interview so your musings
were the only glimpse l have
I do like the wholesome portrait of the family in the
White House. They are a
beautiful family and seem to care deeply for one another. And we have had eight years
of scandal-free domestic life
from our first family.
I enjoyed reading your “Musings.”
It seems that with Technology there are so many more with a platform to say as they see fit. It seems to be another instance of the knowledge of good and evil. Mankind continues to show that with that knowledge we are wholly unable to handle it. We either have to filter the output (Government) or filter the input (Choose how we think). The second seems more effective.
Wow good commentary on truth; the tree that which our “fore-parents” mustered up the faith and did partake and ate, but it was the wrong motivation, for apart from Him, we can do nothing. Thank you for opening up my eyes.
I run everything against the word of God. If God has spoken against it then it’s over. Where he has given a principle then I analysize it through the principle.
Thank you for an honest overview of the interview, and stating when appropriate, your opinion rather than stating it as fact.
Susan you have taken the time to present your ideas well. I appreciate the fact that you concluded how Mrs. Obama supports her family! I saw the *interview. I believe that you would support your husband when negative and incorrect statements are made from a personal side. We must remember many positions ate in charge of the United States. In my opinion, just lije now, many people in high positions did not support the president.
Thanks for your article.
It’s interesting that you say many people in high positions (I assume you mean in the Administration) didn’t support the President. I didn’t see that. I wish that upper level Democrats would resign or push back the way Republicans did at the time of Watergate or even as we saw in this last election cycle. I think the Democrat Party is much weaker and corrupt because they do not accept pushback. The way I see it, no dissent is tolerated. But I certainly would not expect the dissent to come from the President’s wife and I think she and her husband are in lockstep ideologically anyway.
Although I didn’t listen to the Michelle Obama/Oprah “interview”, I did see that Mrs. Obama had made the comment “See, now we are feeling what not having hope feels like, you know. Hope is necessary. It is a necessary concept. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”
The casual just-batting-the-breeze nature of this conversation between the soon-to-be-former First Lady and Oprah may allow the dare I say target audience to let down their guard and take this “suggestion” to heart. The skillful use of the words “feels”, “feeling”, and “what do you give your kids” suggests that Mrs. Obama’s comment appeals to those who are led by their emotions rather than their intellect. The comment ultimately serves the purpose of perpetuating our First Couple’s ideological hobbyhorse that America is a racist nation. In fact, this comment is the perfect bookend to Michelle’s 2008 comment that her husband’s election as president was the “first time in my adult life I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”
The Left is looking to be out of power for the first time in eight years, and they’ve been in power for sixteen of the past twenty-four years. They are not going away. In fact, they will likely quadruple their efforts toward pre-President Elect Obama’s October 30, 2008 stated goal that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America”.
What happened on November 8, 2016 wasn’t an election. This was a peaceful revolution, the peaceful overthrow of not just a dynasty but a regime bent on the fundamental transformation of America into a socialist system. Millions upon millions of Americans got behind a man who refused to submit to the rules of political correctness; a modern day Teddy Roosevelt who passionately charged his own San Juan Hill in what every professional politician and establishment pundit saw as a political suicide mission. When the guns went quiet, however, and the smoke had cleared, there standing victorious atop the hill was that man, and to his eternal gratification, those millions of American patriots for whom he had given voice standing there beside him.
No longer must we concede the moral high ground to a corrupt grievance politics, where privileged women try to play the oppressed victim in order to leverage political capital out of the accidents of their race and gender.
The Obamas rose through the ranks as Chicago Alinskyite community organizers to assume the most powerful office in the world. As such, they remain today what they started out as, Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), skilled in the art of manipulating juveniles of all ages through the use of empty slogans like “hope and change” along with all the other bumper sticker bromides in order to consolidate and increase their power and influence. It is a blatantly hypocritical political correctness that never protects Christians, Observant Jews, poor whites, or social conservatives.
There are three rules that I always try to observe when confronted with SJWs:
1.) Social Justice Warriors always lie
2.) Social Justice Warriors always double down on their lies
3.) Social Justice Warriors always project emotionally
To understand this is to understand that the Left is handing us the tools to use in counter attack. And counter attack we must, and counter attack WE DID over the course of 2015 and 2016. We must continue to call them out for what they are. The answer to so-called hate speech is not censorship but as the late Andrew Breitbart said, “The answer to hate speech is more speech.” The more voices the better. Let’s flood the marketplace of ideas with the truth and let the world shop to their heart’s content. This is the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers in putting the U.S Constitution’s First Amendment first.
Very well put together thoughts into words of fact and truth. If you have a blog, I would read it
Very well said … I will print it and refer to it occasionally… Thank You.
You should be careful mixing politics with religion. I’ve been watching yours and Rabbi Lapkins TV show for a few months and I’m seriously considering converting to Judaism. One of he things that drove me away from the Christian Churches is the crazy Pastors you see on TV. Bogus healing, prayer water, these folks are shysters and only a simpleminded person would believe all the swill they spew every night.
Susan, please….please don’t go down that road, I learn a lot from you and the Rabbi on your TV show. I think teaching the Bible and how to apply it to life is far more important than politics between Obama and Trump, left or right, black or white, all that stuff.
Can you give me any advice on converting to Judaism?
Can one really convert to Judaism?
Of course, Mrs Obama would support and define her husband therefore, why do the interview. I didn’t watch the interview but if she was going to be honest then admitting that things didn’t go the way they planned would be a concession to the division her husband administration brought to country instead of inclusion. I’m tired of them whining about how prejudice America is when her husband, who isn’t a “Black” American but an “African” American won the White House twice. Where in the world would that happen or has happened other than American?
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