The right wing rumor that Barack and Michelle Obama almost got a divorce goes beyond irrational hatred of this president and ties into a specific Republican objective for 2012.
The widely debunked Ed Klein claims in his new book that Barack and Michelle Obama almost got a divorce in 2000, because Barack failed to listen to Michelle’s warnings about challenging incumbent Democratic congressman Bobby Rush. Obama did challenge Rep. Rush and suffered a blowout defeat in the election.
The source of the rumor is an author who has zero credibility on the left or the right, yet the media gave Klein’s apparently baseless rumor a platform. But the bigger question is, what was the point of the twelve years ago the Obamas almost, maybe could have gotten a divorce story?
On the surface this would seem to be the latest in a long line of anti-Obama rumors ginned up by someone in order to make a quick buck off the right wing cottage industry of Obama hate. There was also a deeper political attack being carried out, not only against President Obama, but also his reputation as a family man. Republicans have long telegraphed that their general election strategy will be to make Barack Obama as unlikable and unlike other Americans as possible. This was a tactic that they tried and failed with in 2008, so they are upping the ante in 2012.
Instead of the reluctant John McCain, Republicans have a used car salesman of a nominee in Mitt Romney who is willing to say or do anything to get elected. The personal narrative for Romney that the party is pushing is that he is the all American success story. The problem that Republicans have faced is the President and First Lady Obama are immensely personally popular. In contrast the Romneys want to be Ward and June Cleaver, but act more like Thurston and Lovie Howell, perpetually shipped wrecked on their own island of wealth based isolation.
It would difficult to find a major party nominee for the presidency who generates such lukewarm feelings as Mitt Romney does, so the strategy is simple. If they can’t make Romney more likable then they are going to make Obama less likable, and one of the things that Americans like most about the president is his marriage and family.
Ed Klein may be trying to sell another fictitious Obama hate book, but those who are repeating the rumor are pushing a distinct political agenda. In the rumor an arrogant Obama doesn’t listen to his wife, the politically reluctant Michelle Obama, and nearly loses his marriage. This story is meant to feed the idea that Obama is an arrogant political animal who wouldn’t let the wishes of his family get in the way of his political ambition.
The othering of Barack Obama has extended to his marriage. The fact of the matter is that the Obamas best represent the valuing of the family that Republicans are always talking about. How can America’s best example of family values be in favor of reproductive rights for women and same sex marriage?
Before anyone dismisses this as just another crazy Obama hate rumor from the right, keep in mind the negativity is going to continue. The rumors are going to multiply before November.
This isn’t just about Obama hate. It is about the fact that the Republicans and Mitt Romney will push any bit of dirt they get, true or not, to win this election, but no matter what the right throws at the Obamas, they will remain America’s First Family.