Malkin goes too far for her readers

Trashing Michelle Obama and the homeless gets "the other Michelle" rebuked in her own comments.

Published March 7, 2009 12:34PM (EST)

It's Friday, I'm tired, and I'm not proud of this: I broke one of my rules today, and clicked on a link to Michelle Malkin's blog.

I couldn't help it: This phony "controversy" over the homeless man who took a cellphone photo of Michelle Obama while she was serving food at a shelter made me sick. Short version: The wingnuts are raving about the audacity of a homeless guy having a cellphone, ignoring that many shelters help their clients get prepaid cellphones so they have a phone number to leave when applying for jobs or looking for housing. Duh.

So I went from the War Room post to the Malkin post and I've got to say: It's particularly crazy over in Malkinland. I hadn't been there for a while (since she was sliming little Graeme Frost in 2007). First of all, somebody seems to have a little obsession with the "other Michelle." Yes, that's what Malkin calls Michelle Obama, really: the "other Michelle," as though she's better known than the first lady. Someone has a wee narcissism problem. Malkin rarely goes a day without posting something about the classy first lady, often illustrated with the ugliest possible photos she can find; one of her favorites looks like a mug shot.

The only thing worse than Malkin's posts tend to be the comments. Some of her fans are disturbed people who share Malkin's hatred of the "other Michelle." In post after post I found comments like these: "Every time I see her I hear in my head the line delivered by Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack: 'Last time I saw a mouth like that it had a hook in it.'” Or: "This is one of things I dread most about the next 4 yrs. Having to look at her every day."

Malkin fans refer to Michelle Obama as a "slug," a "Klingon," "President Obama’s bitter half," "First Baby Momma." But a funny thing happened today: Sanity broke out in Malkin's comments section on Michelle Obama's shelter visit. Even her own readers began saying Malkin – and some of her fans – were going too far. Several readers observed what I did: Many homeless have cheap, prepaid cellphones because they need them. "I’m not sure the picture justifies outrage," one wrote. "This is pointless snark that will ultimately backfire," said another.

And when a commenter broke out in flaming racism (which is not uncommon on Malkin's blog), there was a backlash. The racist comment was unusually idiotic:

now how do you expect this man to keep wit his ho’s and supply his customers wid crack if you be takin his cell phone, dog. raciiist. i be collecting unemployment, eatin at da shelter, and runnin my games on da street. and you know, wit obama runnin da show, i ain’t goin a have dem 5-0 chasin my black a$$.

Other commenters pushed back quickly. "mainah" wrote: "I am shocked by the blatant racism in a few of these remarks. Just because they are black and homeless does not mean they are pimps, drug dealers or thieves. We need to watch ourselves and not slip into us vs. them mentality." Several readers backed up mainah.

So it's actually a Happy Friday story: Michelle Malkin went too far for her own readers. Maybe she'll realize that Michelle Obama, like her husband, is hugely popular with American voters, an inspiring woman who's likely to make a profound impact on America's self-conception. Volunteering, visiting schools, traveling to government agencies to help remoralize employees, raising her adorable daughters; she's an incredible asset to Obama at a perilous time. Tom DeLay says Rush Limbaugh is a Republican "role model": Well, Michelle Obama is certainly a Democratic role model, and I know which party got the better deal.

I worried when the right went after Michelle Obama this summer. I was relieved to see it backfire then, and judging from Malkin's blog, it's backfiring again. That's change we can believe in. Have a good weekend.


By Joan Walsh

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