icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Michelle Obama’s ‘low grade depression’ may very well be real but framing it politically smacks of attention seeking point scoring

Guy Birchall
Guy Birchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Michelle Obama’s ‘low grade depression’ may very well be real but framing it politically smacks of attention seeking point scoring
The former First Lady claims that her ennui has been brought on by a variety of things including the pandemic, racial issues in America, and the “hypocrisy” of the Trump administration.

Mrs Obama says she is suffering from “low grade depression”, coincidentally she also has a new podcast to promote but we’ll leave that to one side for now. 

Her assessment could simply be filed along with the raft of other statements from ludicrously privileged people whinging about how hard it has been to be stuck in their mansions. What they of course mean is that people aren’t paying nearly as much attention to them as they used to because they have real things to deal with. No doubt the pandemic has somewhat scuppered Michelle’s plans to develop her media career. But I feel like her complaint is more pernicious than the average celebrity moan.

Firstly, a woman of her intelligence should know better than to bandy the term “depression” around quite so liberally. Obviously, she may feel she is in a low mood, but from the way she has described her “depression” it certainly doesn’t fall into the category of a psychiatric issue. At a time when millions of Americans are isolated at home or feel legitimately unsafe in their own cities (not everyone has a Secret Service detail, Michelle) this is a tin-eared statement. 

Also on rt.com Wayne Dupree: We need to stop voting for leaders who don’t care about our future

But even ignoring that, her assessment about the state of America is such a bien-pensant and obvious a metro-lefty one it borders on asinine. This would be irritating if it came from who she is on her own merit, a successful liberal lawyer, but coming from someone whose husband ran the bloody country for eight years it makes you wonder if she was paying attention. She must know that no one would give hoot what she thinks about anything if she hadn’t been married to the president, so the least she could do is offer something more insightful than a mediocre sitcom actress. 

It also completely ignores both her own and her husband’s contribution to the febrile situation in the USA. I appreciate it is an election year and she is Democratic royalty, but little of what she has said or done has done much to inspire unity. Rather than opting to be a voice of sanity in her party she, like most other senior Democrats is bowing to the outer left fringes of the party. This is allowing the party of people like JFK, Clinton and even her husband, who though left by American standards was still moderate, to be taken over by radicals like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar who are seriously calling for the defunding of police forces. 

She also appears to buy completely into the narrative that America is a systemically racist country despite her own family being a clear refutation of this. What sort of white supremacist nation would elect a black president, twice, and then lap up the books, tv, shows and podcasts promoted by his wife? The answer is of course that that wouldn’t happen in a white supremacist country, or indeed any country that cleaves as strongly to racial identity as the Black Lives Matter movement does itself and imagines others do as well. 

There are a great many people out there who are probably a lot more than “low grade depressed” about the state of things for the exact opposite reason. I for one am greatly disheartened by the re-racialisation of Western politics that has spread across the world thanks to hardcore activists in America. My own country of Britain has imported wholesale the divisive politics of BLM and its cheerleaders like Al Sharpton and Ayanna Pressley when our nation is immeasurably different to the USA. We’ve seen the ridiculous spectacle of BLM leaders in Oxford LARPing as Black Panthers and even a group dressing up as some kind of bizarre Black Power militia group marching through London. This should be deeply worrying to anyone who professes any hope for racial harmony.

Obviously, one expects a Democrat like Mrs Obama to heap blame on a Republican President like Trump, particularly during an election year. Michelle cites the president’s “hypocrisy” as another cause for her angst. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what she means by this hypocrisy, but in fairness no one can seriously argue that Trump is above reproach. But surely the fact that the only viable alternative is Joe Biden is surely equal cause for upset?

Her husband’s old VP hasn’t exactly been inspiring confidence with his all too in frequent public appearances. Normally at this stage of an election year one can’t get the candidates off the screen whereas trying to get Biden on a show seems to be more difficult than coxing a badger out of its set. However, on the rare occasions his team reluctantly agree to put him on camera, it is not difficult to see why they want to keep him locked up. Every appearance seems to result in him making some bizarre gaff, like telling black Trump voters they “ain’t” black or forgetting what state he is in (I know Vermont and New Hampshire are close Mr Vice President, but really?). 

Also on rt.com We gotta talk about Joe Biden’s cognitive decline because his US media cheerleaders won’t… it’s so like the sad fate of Brezhnev

And then there is the pandemic. Plainly this has affected virtually everyone on the planet but not in the same way. Michelle says the pandemic has left her feeling “powerless”, I would venture that pandemic or not, that is a feeling every former occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue feels after they vacate the property. But despite not having the ear of the president anymore, she is by most standards and incredibly powerful figure. 

She is a bestselling author, a podcast host, pre-Covid she sold out arenas on a book tour and Netflix can hardly write checks to her family fast enough for any project they wish to work on. What of those people who have been robbed of their ability to work by the outbreak and the lockdowns? What of those whose businesses that have been destroyed in Democrat run cities across the US thanks to rioting endorsed by your side of the aisle? That is real powerlessness.

Obviously, anyone from any walk of life can suffer from depression, I know that from my own experiences. But these interjections from immensely privileged people frequently serve to trivialise the condition and couching them in political issues, to my mind, just seems like a cheap way to score points and sympathy, especially when they are presented in such a one-sided fashion. Perhaps I am expecting too much from the former First Lady in hoping she would be above such things, but one can’t help feeling that a woman of her clear intellectual substance should really be saying something, well, more substantial.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Podcasts