Hamburger Politics? UPDATE

So, Michelle Obama took the girls out for a hamburger, fries and shakes yesterday.

I’ve had probably ten people email me saying, one way or another, “how nice that Michelle’s girls get to eat hamburgers while the country gets lectured about how it needs to eat better,” or “if they get blocked arteries, will Obamacare cover them or blame them for eating red meat?”

I understand their points. Having the White House carry on about obesity in children and poor eating habits, and then take the kids out for a burger can seem a little hypocritical, but it’s the sort of hypocrisy we all engage in, sometimes, and it is a political point only if you’re looking to (like Saul Alinsky and his acolytes) use your opponents own rules against them.

That Alinskian tactic is a particularly nefarious and passive-aggressive bit of business btw, because it operates with the sure knowledge that it is nearly impossible for any human person to wholly and perfectly live up to their own standards, all the time. We’re human. We embrace the rhetoric of healthy-living, but we like an occasional burger and shake. As that lady said to Ellen Degeneres, “I love Jesus, but I drink a little bit.” We want to live peaceably with everyone, but occasionally our patience runs short. We want to live according to the precepts of our creed, but sometimes we just can’t manage it.

That’s what mercy is for, and thank God for it! :-) In Alinskyland, however (and in too much of politics) there is no mercy, and so it becomes another moment to shout, “thou hypocrite.” It is particularly intolerant and silly, since eventually it will always come back to bite your own ass.

So, I say lay off Michelle Obama’s trip to the burger palace. There are much bigger rings to fry.

Hmmm…I must admit, some people think of things a lot faster than I do. Ann Althouse wonders:

I hope this means Michelle and Barack will lay off lecturing us about what foods we ought to eat. Or will the next photo op be in the setting of the White House vegetable garden? . . . Those little girls are slim, certainly not obese, but what are other little girls supposed to think? They want cheeseburgers and malts too.

Althouse (who is beautifully newly wed, btw) has a valid point (she usually does) and ends by suggesting (via a photo you’ll doubtless recall) that perhaps – just perhaps – the Obama’s sent the females of the family out for burgers to generate a little “aw shucks” positive publicity in a week of rough waters.

I’d hate to think that. But maybe that’s what politicians of all stripes do – haul the kids out when times get tough. Ugh. I’d never go into politics.

Speaking of photos:
Michelle Malkin notes that the same White House that wants you to report “casual conversation” that questions their policies will hold your cellphones in order keep you from snapping any pictures of Michelle, the girls and three starving Secret Service guys.

Well, but, she was with the kids, and the kids are entitled to eat their lunch without cameras at them, right? Parenting is no snap in the best of circumstances; it can’t be easy in a fishbowl.

I’m thinking this is a whole lotta nothing to be upset about, or try to score political points on, when there is so much more to think about, monitor, decry, explain, strenuously mock and register serious concerns about.

And…something to feel good about!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • CV

    I must say, that President Obama burger sounds delicious, what with the horseradish mayo, RED(!!!) onion marmalade and all.

    I plan to try one on my next trip to D.C., then dutifully report my dietary transgression to

  • Robert Hurley

    Amazingly hypocritcal. You manage to say in the same breath lay off of Michelle and the hanburgers and give it full publicity. What small potatoes. Typical of the snarky comments I find in many right wing sites. You and your ilk have no idea of the diet of the Obama kids and what does that have to do with the idea of the President remmending a good diet. This seems to be a slippery slope to an uncivil society. I expect more of a Catholic site. SImply amazing!

    [I can't very well discuss my dissenting opinion from the "we're mad about the hamburger" narrative if I don't give examples of what I'm responding to, can I? I always thought the better part of discourse was to fairly represent what some folks were saying, before rendering one's own differing opinion. So...I should have NOT said what others were saying, and just said, "it's good that Michelle took the girls out for a hamburger" without context? Is that what you're saying? Because that would be a really weird post. It would be like a mainstream media report of Obama during the election, whereby only the praise is reported, without any context as to why the praise is worth noting. Or, it would be like Katie Couric saying to a politician, "SOME say you are a rat, how do you respond," without actually ever mentioning WHO said the politician was a rat, which is a dirty little game to play. Here I have linked to what real people (not a nebulous "some") are saying, and responded.

    Are you saying that it is wrong to give the other side of an argument its due, because the other side of an argument should simply be suppressed? How amazingly odd. How ironic that you call me a hypocrite when I have just written about how we all fall into hypocrisy, sometimes, so we should maybe be a little less ready to jump on Michelle about a hamburger? How ironic that you go immediately to rule #4 of the Alinsky playbook, "use their own rules against them" to decry that you "expect more from a Catholic site." You SHOULD expect more from a Catholic site, which is why I gave the full exposition, and did not simply post a context-free praise-of-Michelle that disallowed the thoughts of others from seeing the light of day, and made no real sense. Thank you for saying I'm amazing, but really, I'm very ordinary. -admin]

  • Richard

    Are you adopting? Sigh. You remain a breath of fresh air on the internet and I love you for it.

  • Gina

    I suppose there’s always the suspicion that these things are staged, but I just hope those girls are able to really have a good time. I hope against hope that these years are not nightmarish for them, especially as they enter into the teens. I wouldn’t go back to thirteen for any amount of money.

  • Ken

    “How ironic that you go immediately to rule #4 of the Alinsky playbook, “use their own rules against them”

    You do that all the time, Anchoress.

    “Having the White House carry on about obesity in children and poor eating habits, and then take the kids out for a burger can seem a little hypocritical” . . .

    if Michelle or the girls were overweight, and there were any evidence they ate like that all the time. Otherwise maybe Michelle wasn’t “carrying on,” she was setting a positive example of moderation, having the occasional burger but planting a garden too? Sheesh.

  • Bob Devine

    The burger joints I frequent have 6 bucks an hr. or what ever high school kids flipping the burgers not a chef.

    When they try to connect to the hoi polloi by trying to say they are just like us they should use the same Wendys or Burger Kings that we do.
    That kind of condonation if that is the right word for talking down to us only makes people mad.

  • Ken

    “That kind of condonation if that is the right word for talking down to us only makes people mad.”

    if people are inclined to be envious. And, no, “coronation” is not the right word for a family going out for a burger.

    What do conservatives always say when liberals express envy of the rich?

  • Roy Lofquist

    Pray tell why are hamburgers so vilified? Lets see. Ground beef, bread, lettuce, tomato, pickle and sometimes cheese. I know! It’s the “Secret Sauce” – invented by mad scientists in a nefarious plot to – uh, uh.

    Actually, through many hours of arduous research I have found the true story. It came about as a result of a clever disinformation schme funded by KFC, Chick-fil-a, Der Wienerschnitzel and some mysterious neocon enemies of Henry Kissinger who is rumored to be a Bilderberger.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Robert Hurley and Ken: What is with you guys??? We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The Anchoress basically told us to cool it and gave examples of what she was talking about and you STILL call her a hypocrite and belittle her.

    Face it, boys. You don’t like us and you’re not going to give us an inch of credit, are you?

    Your “no” would be a whole lot more credible if you’d give a “yes” on something so obvious as this.

  • Christine the Soccer Mom

    Actually, I don’t have ANY problem (nor do I see hypocrisy) in advocating a healthy lifestyle and eating a fast food burger. Anyone who’s been on Weight Watchers knows that you don’t get healthy by completely denying yourself “bad” foods forever. You learn to eat all things in moderation. So, occasionally, the kids get fast food burgers…so what?

    Anchoress, you are, natch, right again. We do have bigger rings to fry (great pun!).

    As far as the staging goes…well, that is a distinct possibility. On the other hand, maybe the girls wanted to go to McDonald’s (or wherever they went) and eat OUT for once. They’re just kids. My kids want to get out and have chicken nuggets or a burger sometimes, too. So even if it WAS staged, I’m betting the girls had a moderately good time. (And I wouldn’t blame Mom if she didn’t want their pictures taken a bunch, either. After all, look what they did to Palin’s…oh, wait. Can’t go there.)

    (Hey, I’m kidding around a bit. The kid factor is exactly why I’m not going into politics.)

  • Ken

    Sue, I admire Anchoress for saying Michelle shouldn’t be judged for her little hypocrisy. I really do. But I find it disturbing that she and “probably 10 people” here see any hypocrisy in their going out for a burger in the first place. That judgment strikes me as so bizarre as to suggest what I’ve been saying here all along, that people have a fundamentally unkind, culture warrior view of the Obamas in the first place.

    We’re supposed to be the peacemakers.

    [Wow, Ken. Just wow. You rode in here, Mr. "Peacemaker," on a "protect Obama from any-and-all-smears" horse and accusing me (in your very first posts) of being a shameful Christian saying shameful things in this fine Christian magazine, and how you were ashamed of me because you had "defended [me] for years on the net.” In subsequent weeks, you’ve admitted, when presented with various arguments that you hadn’t been reading me very long at all. You’ve “never read Alinsky” but you work his tactics. You “watch Olbermann, but only for the guests; think he is a jerk,” (which was so “I read Playboy, but only for the articles,” that I was going to call you on it but I kept thinking I should give you the benefit of a doubt.) And then this morning I’m actually thinking “maybe I’ve been too hard on old Ken and before I go on retreat I should offer him a hand of peace,” only to open the page and read that even when I am defending Michelle Obama’s right to take her kids out for a burger (AND defending her having her SS men confiscating personal phones from people, temporarily, which in retrospect is stupid of me), I’m still baaaaaaaaad person shameful, unpeaceful Christian who needs more of your Jiminy Cricket “gasp-how-scandalous-we’re-supposed-to-be-peacemakers-so-let-me-drench-your-blog-and-your-readers-with-more-of-my–urine-of-disapproval-because you’re-all-so so, so mean and nasty of those good Obamas-who-only-want-the-best-for-all-Americans”, of whom we should just shut up because Obama said so (you had no problem with that, I note).

    You remind me of those people Jesus warned us about, the ones who won’t dance when you play a jig, and won’t cry when you sing a dirge. I’m a tolerant girl, but I think you’ve abused my hospitality and my trust (and the good-faith engagement of my readers, you “only-watch-Olbermann-for-the-guests-I-think-he’s-a-jerk-Maddow-quoting-peacemaker” you) long enough. -admin]

  • Dee


    “That judgment strikes me as so bizarre as to suggest what I’ve been saying here all along, that people have a fundamentally unkind, culture warrior view of the Obamas in the first place.”

    Good grief, you’d consider 10 people as constituting a “fundamentally unkind, culture warrior view of the Obamas…”

    What a complete gross generalization, but of course, typical of the left. What you’re been saying all along makes no statistical sense whatsoever. Just blatant judgmentalism.

  • Sue from Buffalo

    Ken, I understand. It would seem kind of harsh. I think it’s because we’ve been lectured so much in so many areas that people have had enough of it.
    Look at the CEOs who flew their jets in for a meeting with Congress and were blasted for it. Compare that with President Obama flying his wife to here, there and everywhere for dinner, a date, to sightsee in Europe (granted while he goes to meetings. Mrs. O and girls still stayed an extra day at taxpayers’ expense).
    Criticizing us for bad health practices while he still smokes.
    Criticizing Americans for bad dietary practices and then going out for fast food.. I think what the Anchoress is trying to say is that it is a little hypocritical to lecture us on how we should eat and then they go out for fast food. Now if he had said that everything in moderation and said it with some respect for the American People, things would play out a lot differently.

    It may be a little hypocritical, Ken, because of the way he lectures us as if we were children or idiots.
    The man is arrogant, Ken. There’s no getting around it. And a whole heck of a lot more than other Presidents we’ve had in the past. There is no humility in the man and that is starting to rub people (who formerly supported him) the wrong way.
    I hope that this makes sense. I thought about it a lot. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t angry with him/her unduly. I don’t think I am. I don’t care if they go out for a hamburger or not. I’m definitely not willing to condemn the man for trivial things like going out for pizza.
    But I will tell you one thing: I am scared of him. i consider him a thug in a suit. Not just your run-of-the-mill politician who plays hardball. In seven months he’s done more harm to this country than I could have ever imagined and any man who is coldly willing to let a baby die from a botched abortion or call children “burdens” is not someone I want fashioning our nation’s healthcare. Yes…he scares me.

    [Don't forget "we can't keep our houses at 72 degrees" while he keeps the WH "like a hothouse; you could grow orchids in there" (words of David Axelrod) -admin]

  • Gina

    Ken, this is Obama. He talks about being embarrassed by Americans because we travel overseas and not speaking the language, but he speaks no foreign languages. He chides us about our thermostats, then cranks his. He tells us to check our tire pressure, and flies to a different city simply for a date night.

    In this case, the whole point of the post was to give Michelle Obama some slack on this one. However, the man is hypocritical in so many ways even more serious than these, I won’t even bother to keep going on and listing them. So really, don’t tell us to be “kind” about that fact. In fact, I’m pretty tired all around at your hectoring and lecturing, too, and I can see I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  • Joseph Marshall

    Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.


    There is only one issue in this whole teabag-and-free-speech freakshow: How are we all going to pay for health insurance.

    That’s it. That’s all.

    The next time you have an idle hour, I have a suggestion.

    Record yourself reading one of these posts aloud, and then listen to it. Really listen.

    And, then put it up for the rest of us to listen to it.

    [Why Joseph, I have asked how we're supposed to pay for this boonswaggle dozens of times in the past few weeks, and you know that. Today, I am thinking I may start asking if Obama is deliberately trying to bait his critics, because he sure seems to be. Today I am wondering if he isn't a good deal more radical than either of us ever thought, and I'm wondering why JNap wants to use closed military bases for "other appropriate needs" and why he needs a domestic security force. But you're right...I just think and talk about the most trivial crap here, don't I? ;-) -admin]

  • Russ

    Not one comment on the secret service collecting cell phones? Since when does the government have the right to take your property away, even for a short time? Forget the hamburgers, pray for our countrymen and women that have become sheep for the slaughter!

    Free people do not lose their rights because the president’s wife and children walk in the door.

    The secret service commented a crime by taking property from people eating in a public place.