During the town hall presidential candidates’ debate this past Sunday evening in St. Louis (transcript here), Hillary Clinton responded to Donald Trump’s attack on her for her role as Bill Clinton’s enabler. She invoked Michelle Obama’s advice: “When they go low, we go high.” Michelle apparently disagrees with the Mister, who advises: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”
Trump responded by claiming that Michelle Obama had participated in attack ads saying terrible things about Clinton. “Go back and look at those,” he said.
David Axelrod, the chief campaign strategist of President Obama in campaigns past, quickly disputed Trump on Twitter. Thus Megan Garvey fact-checked Trump for the Los Angeles Times and found him wanting. Fact-checking the fact-checkers, I find Axelrod and the Times wanting.
Trump’s reference was obscure and slightly mistaken, but I knew instantly what he was talking about. During the 2008 primary campaign, speaking before a hometown audience, Michelle Obama explained why Hillary Clinton was unfit to serve as president. Let’s go to the tape.
Michelle Obama said: “One of the important aspects of this race is role modeling what good families should look like. And my view is that if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. Can’t do it.”
Axelrod and the Times to the contrary notwithstanding, on this point Trump had it right in substance.
It makes for an interesting case study. If anyone but Michelle Obama had said what she said, it would have been a major incident in the culture war. Indeed, Michelle Obama would have fallen as a casualty in the culture war. Michelle Obama being Michelle Obama, however, she got away with it.
Mrs. Obama’s critique of Clinton was so utterly hidebound and old-school that she sounded like a conservative of Phyllis Schlafly’s vintage. Expanding on the implicit assertions of Michelle Obama’s earnest observations, Hillary Clinton is not fit to to be president because her family is not fit to serve as a role model. Her husband’s escapades demonstrate that she can’t run her own house. If she can’t run her own house, according to Mrs. Obama, she shouldn’t be president. She’s not fit to serve.
David Axelrod is being David Axelrod and the Times fact checker is simply ignorant. Only students of ancient history have any idea what Michelle Obama had to say about Madam Hillary in 2008.
UPDATE: Megan Garvey is sticking with it.
— Megan Garvey (@garveylatimes) October 11, 2016