Condescending to Michelle Obama

by Cara on November 18, 2008

in 2008 election, assholes, Democrats, media, politics, sexism, stereotypes, work

The other night, Steve Kroft interviewed Barack and Michelle Obama on 60 minutes.  He asked the two of them about their “personal transition” to the White House. Right towards the very end of the segment, this question really jumped out at me as being particularly condescending:

Kroft: I know you’ve said that your first priority is to be mom in chief.

Michelle Obama: Yes.

Kroft:You’re a Harvard Law School grad yourself. And a Princeton grad. You were a high-powered executive. How long do you give her, knocking around that big house, before she starts to want to imprint on the job of being first lady?

What the hell is that?  First of all, don’t dare ask Michelle how long she thinks it will take before she decides that she wants to start acting officially in the office of First Lady.  Let’s ask Barack!  Secondly, how long do you give her?  Knocking around that big house?  If you watch the video (around 12:50), you’ll see that Kroft has this little grin on his face that says “women, eh? Oh, them and their opinions!” I have to say I’m annoyed that Barack laughs as well.  In contrast, Michelle kind of clenches her lips and lets out a stifled, forced laugh.   Third, why the suggestion — while simultaneously pointing out how smart she is — that Michelle is making a poor decision and doesn’t know what she wants?  If Michelle decides in the end that she’d prefer to focus her efforts on policy, then she’ll do that, and she doesn’t need Steve Kroft to tell her as much.

And no, I’m not willing to give Kroft the benefit of the doubt, seeing as how just a few minutes later, Barack had to call him out on comparing Michelle’s mother to the Obamas’ future dog.

The good news is that Michelle, in the beginning of her response to Kroft’s stupid question (to Barack!), got in a good dig at the nature of the inquiry:

Michelle Obama: Well, the thing we’ve learned, you know, as we’ve watched this campaign, is that people, women, are capable of doing more than one thing well at the same time.

Crazy concept, isn’t it?


1 ilyka November 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Thank you for this. I hadn’t watched 60 Minutes in years when this aired, and while I’d never particularly cared for Steve Kroft, I couldn’t say that I disliked him, or had much opinion about him at all.

But his behavior in that interview was appalling. It was as though he thought he were just sitting around shooting the shit with one of his frat brothers and oh, look!–You brought the cheerleader you’re dating! Let’s jab at her a little, huh, bro? Nauseating.

But Michelle’s answer is one I’m going to remember and use when the opportunity arises. She played that one beautifully.

2 Sarah November 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Oh, that remark got my goat, too. But I loved her answer!!

3 Buki November 18, 2008 at 1:32 pm

I am with Sarah on that one.

4 Rachel November 18, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I love that Michelle Obama doesn’t take shit from anybody. The Obamas are clearly equals in their marriage, and that can only be a good thing for their kids as well as the image of the First Family.

5 PunditMom November 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Oh no he di’int! Just when I think we’re making some progress, it’s clear that there is so much further to go. :(

6 Barbara November 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

I’m guessing Barack laughed from being stunned at the question. Michelle handled it beautifully, it certainly won’t be the last stupid condescending questions and comment she receives for choosing to make her first priority…not ONLY, but first, making sure her children adjust to their new life.

7 t.allen-mercado November 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

I hope, as is the case with my dear husband when someone dares to address me as anything less than his equal- that, Barack laughed out of the sheer discomfort of the awkward moment.

Michelle on the other hand leaves no confusion as to her capacity at whatever role(s) SHE chooses to take on during her time in the White House.

8 Cara November 18, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Barbara and t.allen-mercado, I hope you’re right.

9 Jesse November 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm

I’m excited that Michelle Obama is moving into the White House. She’s going to do beautifully as First Lady. This interview proved her grace under fire, intelligence, and her quick witted thinking. I especially love how she has left her role as First Lady undefined. I have no doubt she will have interests which may or may not be part of Pres. Obama’s platform. I do hope that she chooses to have more of a Hillary Clinton type role–making decisions that will affect the policy at large.

10 Andrea November 18, 2008 at 8:30 pm

I’m so glad you posted on this! I was watching the interview with my mouth open in shock. I can’t believe these people still get away with this crap! Great post. I’m going to start reading you regularly.

11 SunlessNick November 18, 2008 at 10:49 pm

That is a great answer from Michelle Obama.

12 SouthernCali November 19, 2008 at 1:41 am

Steve Kroft missed CBS sensitivity training classes. Couldn’t help but laugh when Mrs. O responded graciously then Steve thought oh well I will talk to the hubby. Then he asked the dog and Mommie-In-Law question. After Mr. O’s response Steve looked mystified as if to say, “Whats up with them?” Betcha he is still confused.

13 Anna November 19, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Michelle Obama is rapidly becoming my hero.

14 dewey November 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Like Rachel, I was watching the marital interplay. I liked that they didn’t have to agree about everything but were respectful when they didn’t.

And I thought Obama’s remark about Kroft needing tips about his mother-in-law was a thinly veiled comment that he needed tips about how to respect women in general.

15 cymcyn November 23, 2008 at 9:31 am

The entire 60 minutes episode just shows how qualified the Obamas are.

16 Blackamazon November 24, 2008 at 11:14 am

Kroft was an idiot but frankly it’s not alone . I am more apalled by the ever expanding editorials written by Women ( Rebeca Traister, L eslie MOrgan Steiner) that do the exact same thing, with an added dollop of why Michelle obama needs to live for other women.

17 Royele December 12, 2008 at 9:38 pm

Oh no that is soo rude he must not know it goes 81/80 behind the First Lady and hers. I think Barack was caught off guard, and that’s why he laughed. Well done Michelle. ily Mr&Mrs. Obama….
Young supporter

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: