Michelle Obama, A True First Lady Of Grace & Dignity

Last night was the first night of the Democratic National Convention … a much different affair than in years past!  I must admit that I did not watch all of it … did not watch any of it live, for I was otherwise occupied, but I went back later and listened to the speeches by Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama.  Both were good, but … man, Michelle Obama knocked it out of the park!  At times, her voice quivered and I felt tears welling (not that unusual these days).

I remember back during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, often referred to as ‘Camelot’, and how Jaqueline Kennedy was so revered as a lady of charm, grace and dignity.  It would be 2009, when the Obamas moved into the White House before we would again see such a First Lady.  Michelle Obama was no wilting rose, she was a woman of courage and convictions, and also one of grace and dignity.  The Obama years were virtually scandal-free … no sexual liaisons, no errant daughters, no … nothing but quiet dignity.  Oh how I miss those days!  At any rate, for those who may have missed Ms. Obama’s speech, I wanted to present both a transcript and the video here today. 


Good evening, everyone. It’s a hard time, and everyone’s feeling it in different ways. And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune into a political convention right now or to politics in general. Believe me, I get that. But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting.

I’ve met so many of you. I’ve heard your stories. And through you, I have seen this country’s promise. And thanks to so many who came before me, thanks to their toil and sweat and blood, I’ve been able to live that promise myself.

That’s the story of America. All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids.

There’s a lot of beauty in that story. There’s a lot of pain in it, too, a lot of struggle and injustice and work left to do. And who we choose as our president in this election will determine whether or not we honor that struggle and chip away at that injustice and keep alive the very possibility of finishing that work.

I am one of a handful of people living today who have seen firsthand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this: the job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass, and an ability to listen—and an abiding belief that each of the 330,000,000 lives in this country has meaning and worth.

A president’s words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job.

As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.

In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct—two votes. And we’ve all been living with the consequences.

When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record-breaking stretch of job creation. We’d secured the right to health care for 20,000,000 people. We were respected around the world, rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.

Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died, and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care; too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent; too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely. Internationally, we’ve turned our back, not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances championed by presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower.

And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a Black life matters is still met with derision from the nation’s highest office.

Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.

Empathy: that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes; the recognition that someone else’s experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don’t stand in judgment. We reach out because, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” It is not a hard concept to grasp. It’s what we teach our children.

And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.

They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe. They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good, and winning is everything because as long as you come out on top, it doesn’t matter what happens to everyone else. And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain.

They see our leaders labeling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages, and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protestors for a photo-op.

Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation. A nation that’s underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that’s not just disappointing; it’s downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.

And I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what’s going on in this country is just not right. This is not who we want to be.

So what do we do now? What’s our strategy? Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me, “When others are going so low, does going high still really work?” My answer: going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.

But let’s be clear: going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top. Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences.

And going high means unlocking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free: the cold hard truth.

So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.

Now, I understand that my message won’t be heard by some people. We live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a Black woman speaking at the Democratic Convention. But enough of you know me by now. You know that I tell you exactly what I’m feeling. You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation. You know how much I care about all of our children.

So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this: if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.

I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man, guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.

When he was a kid, Joe’s father lost his job. When he was a young senator, Joe lost his wife and his baby daughter. And when he was vice president, he lost his beloved son. So Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own.

His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.

Now, Joe is not perfect. And he’d be the first to tell you that. But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president. And his ability to learn and grow—we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for right now. Because Joe Biden has served this nation his entire life without ever losing sight of who he is; but more than that, he has never lost sight of who we are, all of us.

Joe Biden wants all of our kids to go to a good school, see a doctor when they’re sick, live on a healthy planet. And he’s got plans to make all of that happen. Joe Biden wants all of our kids, no matter what they look like, to be able to walk out the door without worrying about being harassed or arrested or killed. He wants all of our kids to be able to go to a movie or a math class without being afraid of getting shot. He wants all our kids to grow up with leaders who won’t just serve themselves and their wealthy peers but will provide a safety net for people facing hard times.

And if we want a chance to pursue any of these goals, any of these most basic requirements for a functioning society, we have to vote for Joe Biden in numbers that cannot be ignored. Because right now, folks who know they cannot win fair and square at the ballot box are doing everything they can to stop us from voting. They’re closing down polling places in minority neighborhoods. They’re purging voter rolls. They’re sending people out to intimidate voters, and they’re lying about the security of our ballots. These tactics are not new.

But this is not the time to withhold our votes in protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning. We have got to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012. We’ve got to show up with the same level of passion and hope for Joe Biden. We’ve got to vote early, in person if we can. We’ve got to request our mail-in ballots right now, tonight, and send them back immediately and follow-up to make sure they’re received. And then, make sure our friends and families do the same.

We have got to grab our comfortable shoes, put on our masks, pack a brown bag dinner and maybe breakfast too, because we’ve got to be willing to stand in line all night if we have to.

Look, we have already sacrificed so much this year. So many of you are already going that extra mile. Even when you’re exhausted, you’re mustering up unimaginable courage to put on those scrubs and give our loved ones a fighting chance. Even when you’re anxious, you’re delivering those packages, stocking those shelves, and doing all that essential work so that all of us can keep moving forward.

Even when it all feels so overwhelming, working parents are somehow piecing it all together without child care. Teachers are getting creative so that our kids can still learn and grow. Our young people are desperately fighting to pursue their dreams.

And when the horrors of systemic racism shook our country and our consciences, millions of Americans of every age, every background rose up to march for each other, crying out for justice and progress.

This is who we still are: compassionate, resilient, decent people whose fortunes are bound up with one another. And it is well past time for our leaders to once again reflect our truth.

So, it is up to us to add our voices and our votes to the course of history, echoing heroes like John Lewis who said, “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.” That is the truest form of empathy: not just feeling, but doing; not just for ourselves or our kids, but for everyone, for all our kids.

And if we want to keep the possibility of progress alive in our time, if we want to be able to look our children in the eye after this election, we have got to reassert our place in American history. And we have got to do everything we can to elect my friend, Joe Biden, as the next president of the United States.

Thank you all. God bless.

44 thoughts on “Michelle Obama, A True First Lady Of Grace & Dignity

  1. I just enjoyed the thought of all the ridiculous style of right-wing commentators, betrayers of the Christian faith, Hate Mongers and general yahoos spluttering away in incandescent rage at a WOMAN, nay a BLACK WOMAN daring to speak unwell of their beloved creature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michelle watched first-hand what the presidency did to her husand, especially in the lame duck years. First it broke his heart, then it broke hers. If you love her, don’t ask her to brave battlefieds she has already lived through. I trust her to know her limits!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ??? Who said anything about asking her to do anything? She made it clear, and we all respected her wishes, that she had no desire to run for political office. End of discussion. Nobody that I’m aware of has tried to push her in any other direction.

      Like

      • Read some of the comments. Read some of the pleas on other websites, Hell, I’d love to see her run. I’m sure she would win, and be a great president. But I respect her too much, as do you. Chill, Jill. You are standing on tenterhooks. Deep breathe. Repeat as necessary.
        I am finally going for tests in the morning. It’s taken me 7 weeks of agony to convince my doctor something is wrong. The political climate caused by Covid is changing the course of healthcare. The money being diverted to Covid is creating shortages in other areas. Alberta doctors are under pressure from the so-called governing party. If you do not want to take drastic pay cuts, stop ordering tests. Another bully trying to force private healthcare on us. Private doctors can create their own profit margins. Be a capitalist. Rape the patients.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, I agree with John, she is a class act. Her speech was well done and empathetic. Class and empathy are two words that would not define the incumbent president. Dr. Jill Biden should offer a good speech as well. Today, I heard the GOP will have the couple who brandished guns at protestors speak at their convention – now that is a comparative set of speakers that speak volumes of what is important. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  4. She is indeed a class act, Jill. I wonder if we can lure her to come to Canada? Just kidding. I’d never want to steal one of your national treasures! She was perfect. She is perfect! I watched the CNN coverage and was very impressed from start to finish. Not once was I tempted to leave the broadcast. Looking forward to another great show tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree,. John! You guys would likely treat her a lot better than she gets treated here! At any rate, she is the gold standard for an orator, for grace & dignity, for intelligence. Compare her to you-know-who … no comparison. I haven’t watched any of it, but am catching up with transcripts and news. Just don’t have the patience to sit and watch anything that long!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Dr. Biden was terrific. I feel very lucky to have witnessed two beautiful, intelligent women lay it on the nation. The Bidens and the Obamas are representative of the greatness that we proudly call USA. The trumps simply don’t get it and never could get it because they live in a different world.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I haven’t yet watched or read her speech, but plan to do so later today! Computer woes have put me behind schedule! No, the Trumps don’t get it, and neither do the largely uneducated trumpeters who cannot see that he is hurting them as much as anyone. Yeah, they live in a different world, one where the only thing that matters is money, money, and more money. They lack nothing material in their lives. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade my life for theirs even for a day, for I have more important things than money … things they will never understand.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I only wish you, Anne, and a number of my other Canadian friends could vote in this election, for you see it all more clearly and pay more attention than many who live in the U.S. I haven’t yet listened to Jill Biden’s speech, but plan to later today, as well as Barack Obama’s.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Michelle Obama, A True First Lady Of Grace & Dignity | lyncrain

  6. I was a spectator of The New York Times live coverage from the beginning to the end of the convention. I could have opted to watch it on full screen mode, but chose not to do so in order to read the read the ongoing commentary printed on the right hand side of the computer screen. The NYT politics team of Lisa Lerer, Maggie Haberman, Jennifer Medina, Nick Corasanti, Matt Flegenheimer and Reid Epstein followed the convention’s events as they unfolded. Media correspondent Michael Grynbaum reported how it was playing on TV, including Fox. There were also two fact checkers, but little was needed from them last night. The unspoken printed commentary by the reporters from 8:30 PM to about 11:30 PM provided insight and entertainment without being distracting, making the convention even more interesting and seem less than two hours in length. Michelle Obama, as you know, was the last speaker of the night. As soon as she appeared onscreen, my eyes were drawn to the gold chain around her neck, but these old eyes could not discern the specific charms. A quick switch to full screen soon provided an answer, small gold letters which spelled out the word :V O T E ! I cheered! Soon after exiting full screen, I read a note from another reporter telling them about Michelle’s necklace. I cheered again, this time for Michelle and myself!! Michelle’s excellent speech, though a pre-recorded video, seemed more like a conversation betwixt friends. I must, however, add that the powerful speech by Bernie Sanders was exactly what we needed to hear right now and clear up to November 3rd! Thank-you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I applaud your tenacity! I struggle so much to hear, and frankly see little or no value in either the RNC or DNC this year, as both candidates were pre-determined long ago and all that remains is the pomp … millions of dollars wasted. I did, however, appreciate both Bernie’s and Michelle’s speeches which I listened to later. Ahhhh … thank you for solving the mystery of the necklace! I kept looking at it, but couldn’t discern what the thingies were!

      Like

  7. Amazing speech! Why oh why didn’t Michelle run? Would’ve been a slam dunk!
    Joe should still win easily, so long as he stays out of the limelight. His handlers should cancel
    all interviews, podcasts, public appearances. Definitely cancel debates, he’ll win by default.

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, my friend, Michelle Obama would not have stood a chance. As I just told Jeff in the comment below, she’s a woman and she’s black … she would have been shredded. She was wise to step away and make herself clear that she has no desire to enter politics. Would she be good at it? Hell yeah! But would she be successful? I doubt it. This is still a misogynistic and racist nation … the last 4 years have shown us that.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was so impressed with her speech Jill. Such a class act. It’s too bad she doesn’t have a desire for political office because I’m telling you, I think she would make an excellent president. Sometimes I wish it were her running this time. And I don’t mean that as a slight against Biden. She’s just that good…and decent. Yes, I saw a lot of that last night. Decency. The current White House occupant can use a few lessons in that trait(Ya think???).
    I feel a bit more hopeful after last night. I thought it was overall very well done considering the constraints they had upon them. I saw a lot of hope and forward thinking. Lots of diversity. Next week it will be THERE turn. Expect a complete 180. Fear, not hope. Division, not coming together. I won’t watch one second of it. My stomach will not allow it!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Indeed … her speech was impassioned, yet not filled with hate. If she had consented to make a bid for the office, she had three strikes against her: 1) she’s a woman; 2) she’s black; 3) she has no experience other than that she received vicariously through Barack. She wouldn’t have stood a chance, more for the first two than the third. People don’t seem to care as much about experience and qualifications as they do about gender and most of all, race.

      No, I won’t watch any of the RNC, but will likely read some of the news from it and write about it, for I hear they have a very strange group of people expected to contribute! Yet another 3-ring circus! Who can resist?

      Liked by 2 people

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