I’ve been meaning to get to this for several days but life got in the way, so pardon the delay . . . It seems Barack Obama’s defense of his wife on Good Morning America is not the first notable expression of Obama’s anger. To be clear, I am not necessarily critical of Obama for his anger or for his expression of it in either situation. In the case of defending his wife, I think it was probably both genuine and tactical. So, therefore, it was brilliant. I do not doubt that he loves his wife and that it is painful for him to see her roughly handled. Critics of the Obamas rightly charge that bowing to Obama’s anger by giving Michelle a pass is letting her "have it both ways." It is, of course. And I see no reason to lay off of her when she so readily opens herself up to attack. There is some evidence that the critique of Michelle works and that people do not like her. Fine. But Barack Obama, however protective he may be of his wife, does not really expect that his anger will cause conservatives to lay off of her. What he means to achieve with this expression of anger is to diffuse the effect such criticism of his wife will have. His romantic chivalry (however ironic it is given the nature of the women it is meant to impress) is sure to have the desired effect in the quarters of those ladies-in-waiting who pretend to be above such displays.
But this altercation with fellow state senator, Rickey Hendon, is much more interesting. Again, it is not Obama’s anger that fascinates me. It’s likely, from the description of events Jim Geraghty provides, that Hendon brought the fight on himself. But it’s just as likely that Obama was displaying himself to be duplicitous and, possibly, even weasely in the duplicity. In other words, it’s likely that Hendon was the more manly of the two and the more righteous in his indignation. Obama said he’d vote with Hendon but his "proxy" hit the wrong button? Did that proxy cast the wrong vote on purpose or was it really an accident? Experts will disagree. And what are we to make of this from Hendon, "I have been advised to leave Barack alone and that is what I am going to do. . . .I am going to let things stay in the past. It happened. That’s all I can say. It happened."
Anger is always more impressive (and dangerous) when there is muscle behind it. Apparently, Hendon has discovered that there is some behind Obama’s . . . even if it’s not exactly Obama’s muscle.