It may surprise conservatives to know that the first lady has stayed away from proposing direct government intervention or taxes on junk foods and sodas. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act she promoted increases expenditures by only 6 cents per school lunch and directs that vending machine sales are not eligible for reimbursement by the feds. In addition to new nutrition guidelines, there are pilot programs for organic food as well. Most important, the modest half-a-billion-a-year cost of the legislation was offset by cuts elsewhere. Hardly a government takeover—in fact, you could call it a laissez-faire approach. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
And, rather than a "nanny state run amok," as Palin charges, Mrs. Obama has been using the bully pulpit to encourage a sea change similar to the ones that have turned the public against smoking in public, drinking while pregnant, and riding bikes without a helmet. It's surprisingly similar to Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign and Barbara Bush's efforts to increase family literacy, both of which sought to change the culture rather than overregulate.
The fact is that many children get every meal but dinner at school because of before-school breakfast programs, subsidized lunches, and snacks at after-school care. It's also a fact that, for the first time in our nation's history, the next generation is more likely to lead shorter, sicker lives than the current one. Getting obesity under control is in everyone's best interest—liberal and conservative.