The Invented Controversy of Michelle Obama's Oscars Appearance

This is about people who so hate the Obamas that they simply cannot stand seeing either one of them getting attention or having any fun.

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(Pete Souza/The White House)

How desperate for a "controversy" about the Obamas does a person have to be to create one over the appearance of first lady Michelle Obama on the Oscars?

Mrs. Obama, looking resplendent (and really thrilled) as she made a surprise appearance by satellite from the White House, had the honor of announcing the Best Picture winner. It was something the Academy approached her and asked her to do, and director Ben Affleck seemed pretty pleased at having his film announced by the first lady. (That doesn't make up for the outrageous snub he received by not even getting a Best Director nod, but that's beside the point).

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What on Earth could be wrong with adding some Washington glamour (no, that is not necessarily a contradiction in terms) to an already glitzy event? Plenty, according to those anxious to criticize Obama. A Washington Post blogger accused the first lady of feeling "entitled" to the appearance. Right-wing website Breitbart.com called it "obscene." Obscene? Was there a wardrobe malfunction? Was it a lip-syncing singer gyrating like a pole dancer at the Super Bowl halftime show (not only too much, but unnecessary, given that Beyonce's voice is spectacular enough she doesn't need to sex it up). It was just an elegant and lovely woman, looking gorgeous in a tasteful evening address, announcing the Best Picture winner. There wasn't any discussion of politics, or a jab at Republicans for the looming sequester. It was just someone who is famous in one arena crossing over to another fame-filled arena. So what?

But this isn't about what's "appropriate" behavior for a first lady (and the term "appropriate" always seems to be restrictive and a little patronizing when it comes to women in powerful roles). This is about people who so hate the Obamas that they simply cannot stand seeing either one of them getting attention or having any fun. This is about taking a female African-American role model and telling her she's not keeping her place.

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Fortunately, the Harvard-educated Obama doesn't let anyone put her in some limited "place." And that's exactly what a role model should do.

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