Hands off Michelle Obama you GOP Meanies!

I was wondering when this was going to happen. It appears a major effort is underway to smear as "racist" or "sexist" (or perhaps both) anyone who criticizes Michaell Obama.

This is probably a prelude to innoculating the candidate himself eventually. We are about to enter a new age in American politics, one where everything that even hints of criticism will be seen as an unfair attack:

Despite being a steady presence at her husband's side on primary election nights, and sitting for occasional media interviews, Michelle Obama remains an unfamiliar figure to most voters, strategists said. When she campaigned in recent months, it was almost always alone and in small settings. The most sustained attention she received on cable news shows was for her controversial February statement leaving the impression that she wasn't proud of her country until this year. 

"There is no reason to expect her to have a brand. But the campaign needs to start doing that," said Erik Smith, a Democratic strategist and aide to former Rep. Richard Gephardt during his 2004 presidential campaign. "Defining Michelle Obama goes a long way in defining Barack Obama. I am sure it is a campaign priority."

Indeed, when the campaign launched a website today to combat rumors about Barack Obama's patriotism, his religion and his family, the first entry dealt with his wife.

Other efforts are on tap. She joins the candidate Friday for a roundtable in Ohio with senior citizens and appears as a guest host next week on "The View," the popular daytime talk show, giving her access to friendly, high-profile platforms. Campaign aides said they are "staffing up across the board," including for Michelle Obama - a move that Schoen said reflects the need to "manage the image and utterances of the spouse."

The heightened scrutiny "requires a level of staffing and attention to detail that goes beyond what spouses have typically gotten," Schoen said.

Michelle Obama did not "leave the impression" that she wasn't proud of her country until this year. She said it not once but several times and meant every word. There was no "leaving an impression" about it.

Beyond that, any criticism of Mrs. Obama will now be seen as an attack to be responded to by vicious name calling and playing the race card. This will give her tremendous leeway in her campaign appearances - something John McCain could only wish he had.

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