Michelle: 'My husband has dragged me kicking and screaming into things that I wanted no parts of'

Good grief, Mrs. Obama seems to need a teleprompter even more than her husband.  Speaking at the Stanford Center at Peking University and responding to a question from a Chinese graduate student on cross cultural education, the first lady raised more questions than she answered:

"Excellent.  And one thing that you pointed out that I think it’s important to consider is not letting fear be your guide.  And that’s oftentimes what holds many young people back from doing fabulous things.

“Let’s take my husband, for example.  He has dragged me kicking and screaming into things that I wanted no parts of.  (Laughter.)  And a lot of it was because of fear -- the fear of making mistakes, the fear of not knowing, the fear of uncertainty, the fear of leaving your comfort zone.”

Inquiring minds want to know more about exactly what Mrs. Obama wanted no part of, and how the dragging of a kicking and screaming spouse took place. Was domestic violence involved?  One hopes that the first lady momentarily forgot her position and where she was speaking and carelessly used an overly colorful metaphor, one that vaguely implies a range of activities unsuitable for such a dignified occasion.

Mrs. Obama then moved on to her favorite self-pity trope:

And we’re living in a world where we can no longer afford to let fear keep us apart, because the truth -- what I have learned, coming from the background I come from -- I grew up in a little apartment on the South Side of Chicago.  My parents didn’t get a chance to go to college, but they poured everything they had into me.  And no one could have envisioned that a kid like me would be sitting here, having given a speech at Peking University as the First Lady of the United States. 

Mrs. Obama’s father was a ward-heeler in the notorious Daley Machine, with a job on the city payroll in the Water Department, so there was no privation involved. The affluence enjoyed by insiders in the Chicago Machine was unthinkable at the time for the average Chinese person, after all.  And as Michelle Robinson, she enjoyed access to Princeton and Harvard Universities despite a notable lack of language and analytical skills that is self-evident in her graduation thesis from Princeton.

Mrs. Obama then returned to the subject of fear:

But easily, fear could have blocked me at every turn.  So I want all of the young people around the world to operate with the freedom that we have all fought for -- the freedom to explore the world, to learn about new cultures, to try hard things, to make mistakes.  And I know parents want you to be perfect because we want you to be safe -- (laughter) -- but life is about making mistakes, and maybe saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and learning that you recover from even some of your worst mistakes, so that that fear doesn’t keep you from being as excellent as you can be.

And that’s what I think study abroad -- it’s that first step of leaving your country, speaking another language, having it come out of your voice, your lips, and having someone here actually understand you.  And you think, well, that wasn’t that bad.

So I want you -- first of all, I just want to applaud you all for being that brave, and for being a role model to other young people of what the world needs in you as leaders.  So don’t be afraid.  Start with your parents.

“Start with your parents”? Is Mrs. Obama urging Chinese students to rebel against parental authority? That goes against over two millennia of Confucian tradition. And on this very trip, Mrs. Obama is accompanied by her mother. What sorts of issues did Mrs. Obama have with her parents that impel her to urge young Chinese students to “start with” their parents?

As someone who left home to study in the Far East at the age of 19 and spent many years immersed in the languages and cultures of Japan and China, I certainly endorse the value of expanding your cultural horizons, as Mrs. Obama is doing. But one aspect of both the Obamas that receives almost no attention from the sycophantic American media is their utter lack of cross-cultural experience. Neither one of them has ever bothered to master a foreign language. Indeed, Barack Obama is so ignorant that he actually once stated that in Austria, people speak “Austrian” – an astonishingly uninformed thing for any college graduate, much less an Ivy Leaguer, to utter.

All in all, this was a very weird moment.