Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle draws our attention to the fawning coverage Politico reporter Amy Parnes gives to Michelle Obama’s crusade against obesity. Parnes. Boyle argues, might as well be regarded as an unpaid press agent on the First Lady’s behalf. Parnes in particular wants to criticize conservatives who have taken aim at the First Lady’s self-chosen cause as another manifestation of the nanny state. But who can deny that the authoritarian left has our menus in its gunsights? From Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on transfats and war on salt in New York City to bans on sodas and other treats in public schools to the documentaries and pressure groups attacking McDonald’s, is the idea of extending government regulation to our food choices that far-fetched? Our nannies have already proposed taxing certain politically-incorrect foods at a higher rate. And if they come for our donuts, won’t our guns be next?
Never mind the obvious irony of our obese government tackling overconsumption by Americans. That’s just too easy. It is possible, though, that conservative criticism of the First Lady’s crusade is too modest, not because it is wrong about the authoritarian impulse lurking in the shadows, but because the First Lady’s choice of a cause to champion is so small and pathetic compared to what she and her husband might choose to do.
What is the single largest problem in the African-American community today? It’s not obesity; it’s fatherless children, and the social pathologies that come in its wake. Our first African-American president and his accomplished wife are in a position to use their moral authority and own example to make a sustained argument on behalf of responsible and stable family life. Such a campaign, spearheaded by the First Lady, would gain the president a lot of goodwill from social conservatives in his own party whose votes he is otherwise losing in large numbers.
President Obama made a few sensible comments in this direction during his campaign, but the idea has been totally absent since he took office. Compared to what they could be doing, the First Lady’s obesity campaign makes Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” anti-drug campaign look bold and edgy by comparison. Heck, even taking up Barbara Bush’s literacy campaign would do more for the well-being of minorities than curbing obesity.
I suspect one reason this idea has been ruled out is that it wouldn’t fit the leftist narrative of victimization and racism, and would undermine the redistributionist impulses at the center of Obama’s ideology. There’s also likely an element of fear. Recall during the campaign Jesse Jackson caught by an open microphone saying that he wanted to “cut Obama’s nuts off” because Obama was “talking down to black people.” The race-mongers of the left simply won’t allow it. Obama’s “audacity” apparently has limits.
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