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Douglas Andrews / August 20, 2020

The Lie of Going High

A former first lady fails to acknowledge her own team’s record of cheap shots.

Some statements just don’t pass the giggle test. Like when Bill Clinton said he didn’t “have sexual relations with that woman.” Or when Barack Obama said his “commitment to Israel … is unshakeable.” Or when Joe Biden said, well, take your pick.

But every bit as spit-takingly funny as these are the moments when former First Lady Michelle Obama talks about “going high” when the other side is “going so low.”

Don’t get us wrong: What she’s saying is cute, and it’s clever, and it paints a pretty picture. It’s just not true.

“Over the past four years,” she said during her speech at the Democratic National Convention, “a lot of people have asked me, ‘When others are going so low, does going high still really work?’ My answer: Going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that’s drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.”

And yet, said Michelle two weeks ago, “I know that I am dealing with some form of low-grade depression. Not just because of the quarantine but because of the racial strife. And just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.”

And earlier this week, she said, “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head.”

We wonder if she considers it “going high” when no first lady in U.S. history had ever criticized a sitting president before she began doing it. (We know what you’re thinking, but Hillary Clinton is far less a first lady than a carpetbagging senator, a failed secretary of state, and the most inept presidential candidate in history.)

As historian and author Victor Davis Hanson pointed out, “Her husband’s administration has weaponized the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, the CIA, and is the subject of a massive investigation by a federal attorney. And it would probably end up, if things happen as so many predict, as one of the most corrupt administrations, that tried to destroy a political campaign, a presidential transition, and a presidency. And she’s saying that they go low and she goes high?”

Hanson went on to say that Michelle Obama can get away with such things because she knows media pundits won’t call her on it; she knows that they’re fully on her side; and she knows that while they may call themselves journalists, “they’re really part of the progressive agenda and movement.”

Columnist Jon Brown picked up where Hanson left off, listing eight times when Team Obama went low. These include the time Barack Obama said of rural Americans, “They get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Brown also lists the campaign ad that had a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing a wheelchair-bound old lady off a cliff, the time then-Vice President Joe Biden warned a largely black audience that Mitt Romney was “gonna put y'all back in chains,” and the time a couple of months ago when Biden told a black radio host, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black!”

No such list is ever perfect, though, and this one missed one of the worst examples of gutter politics we’ve seen in years: President Obama telling Hispanic voters, “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends.”

Finally, in what Orwellian world is spying on an opposing political campaign, scheming to impede the peaceful transfer of power, and conspiring to destroy a duly elected American president “going high”?

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