Senator Obama, lay off my life

The Baltimore Sun

Chivalry is still charming, as Sen. Barack Obama proved when he recently warned Tennessee Republicans to leave his wife alone.

He was commenting on a GOP Web ad that highlights Michelle Obama's comment, made at a rally in February, that she was proud of America for the first time in her adult life. When asked about the ad Monday, Mr. Obama said Republicans were welcome to pick on him and his record, but not his wife.

"If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable. The notion that you start attacking my wife, or my family ... is just low class. ... Lay off my wife, all right?"

Love that. You could almost hear those bowling pins toppling as Mr. Obama's testosterone surged, while Mrs. Obama was almost Nancy Reaganesque sitting by his side. Of course, Michelle Obama is manifestly capable of defending herself, but it's refreshing to see a man come to his damsel's defense.

Even so, hard-core feminists who switched allegiances from Sen. Hillary Clinton to Mr. Obama must have had to Botox their faces to keep their eyes from rolling out of their sockets upon hearing "lay off my wife." They were already in fetal recoil from Mr. Obama's earlier "sweetie," offered to a female reporter at a campaign stop in Detroit.

Alas, Mr. Obama felt it necessary to apologize a few hours later.

What preciousness hath feminism wrought when a perfectly good "sweetie" piques a grown woman's ire?

Far too much has been made of tongue slippages that are silly to insignificant, including Mrs. Obama's un-proud moment. We know what the woman meant. She was proud of her husband, proud of her country for recognizing his talents, and probably proud of herself. She was swept up in the moment.

That said, she doesn't get a pass from scrutiny and criticism. What she says matters, not least because she is the partner of the man who would be president but also because her statements are made in the service of his campaign.

Both husband and wife have made plenty of remarks that were not mere nits but are troubling hints at a future where government knows what's best. Such as this from Mr. Obama in Roseburg, Ore., on Saturday:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."

We can't? It's not?

By all means, let's roll out the hybrids and hold the fries, but are other countries now the judges of American lifestyles?

Free markets and private-sector innovation are beautiful things, as is voluntary sacrifice. Let's stay just cynical enough, meanwhile, to ask not what our country can do for us - or to us - but what we can do for ourselves as sane citizens of a free, entrepreneurial nation.

Kathleen Parker's syndicated column appears regularly in The Sun. Her e-mail is

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