{{show_title_date || "Michelle Obama on Trump's comments: 'Enough is enough', 10/13/16, 5:54 PM ET"}}

Michelle Obama’s call to conscience

Michelle Obama is not a politician, and her formal role in the American political system is largely diplomatic and ceremonial. But as we’re occasionally reminded, when the First Lady has something important she wants to say, she has as powerful and compelling a voice as anyone in the country.

And today Obama used that voice to excoriate Donald Trump’s behavior towards women – without ever mentioning the Republican candidate’s name.
“The fact is that in this election, we have a candidate for President of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning that I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week, we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women. And I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for President of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.

“And I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted. So while I’d love nothing more than to pretend like this isn’t happening, and to come out here and do my normal campaign speech, it would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to just move on to the next thing like this was all just a bad dream.

“This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season. Because this was not just a ‘lewd conversation.’ This wasn’t just locker-room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior, and actually bragging about kissing and groping women, using language so obscene that many of us were worried about our children hearing it when we turn on the TV.”
Hillary Clinton has a variety of notable and popular figures who’ve fanned out across the country to help campaign on her behalf, including Michelle Obama, and ordinarily, audiences will hear a good speech from these surrogates on the candidate’s behalf.

But let’s not pretend the First Lady’s appearance in New Hampshire today was a routine political event. It wasn’t. This was a spirited defense of women, feminism, and basic human decency that some appear to have forgotten.

Obama, again without referencing the Republican candidate’s name, added:
“[T]o make matters worse, it now seems very clear that this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s one of countless examples of how he has treated women his whole life. And I have to tell you that I listen to all of this and I feel it so personally, and I’m sure that many of you do too, particularly the women. The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman.

“It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street minding your own business and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long, and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin.

“It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they’ve said no but he didn’t listen – something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day. It reminds us of stories we heard from our mothers and grandmothers about how, back in their day, the boss could say and do whatever he pleased to the women in the office, and even though they worked so hard, jumped over every hurdle to prove themselves, it was never enough.

“We thought all of that was ancient history, didn’t we? And so many have worked for so many years to end this kind of violence and abuse and disrespect, but here we are, in 2016, and we’re hearing these exact same things every day on the campaign trail. We are drowning in it. And all of us are doing what women have always done: We’re trying to keep our heads above water, just trying to get through it, trying to pretend like this doesn’t really bother us maybe because we think that admitting how much it hurts makes us as women look weak. Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing these emotions and staying quiet, because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his. Or maybe we don’t want to believe that there are still people out there who think so little of us as women. Too many are treating this as just another day’s headline, as if our outrage is overblown or unwarranted, as if this is normal, just politics as usual.

“But, New Hampshire, be clear: This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to – Democrat, Republican, independent – no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.

“And I know it’s a campaign, but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency. It’s about right and wrong. (Applause.) And we simply cannot endure this, or expose our children to this any longer – not for another minute, and let alone for four years. Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.

“Because consider this: If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What message are our little girls hearing about who they should look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations? And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere…. Strong men – men who are truly role models – don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”
This is admittedly a lengthy excerpt – I think it’s important – but to read every word, the full transcript is online.

I’d argue that the First Lady’s speech at the Democratic convention was probably the best speech I’ve heard this year, but all things considered, today’s was just as good – and given the circumstances, probably even more important.



Donald Trump and Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama's call to conscience