After watching an electric and exceptional Republican National Convention last week I was anticipating a slightly less than exceptional opening night for the Democratic National Convention. But to my surprise I found myself watching a repeat of the RNC – with a different cast of characters. We had a young, energetic Hispanic give a rousing speech regarding his families’ struggles; how they overcame adversities; and their rise to success. The Rubio/Castro and Michelle/Ann speeches made me wonder just which convention I was listening to. Until you got to the substance…….
Senator Marco Rubio related the story of how his bartender father served from the back of the room so he could speak from a podium in the front of the room. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro told of his mother’s fight hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop he could hold a microphone at the convention.
Then we saw Michelle Obama give her Ann Romney speech. Just as Ann Romney described their early struggles as a young couple, Michelle Obama told us about the President’s beat-up car and his dumpster furniture.
While Ann Romney made no pretense of growing up poor, just the struggles of early married life, Michelle Obama claimed she and the president came from families that were just scraping by.
FACT CHECK – not true!
First Lady Michelle Obama’s pitch to voters last night relied on the premise that she and her husband understand what it is to struggle to make ends meet. She spoke movingly about their early years–about how a young Barack Obama drove a car that was “rusted out” and found his furniture “in a dumpster,” how they both came from families that had to “scrape by.” Her fairy tale–however well-delivered–was one great, big, colorful lie.
Both Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama began their adult lives with a leg up on the rest of America. They attended elite schools: Michelle went to Whitney Young, the public magnet school for Chicago’s upper class, while Barack attended Punahou, the private prep school for the top stratum of Hawaiian society. They were accepted to Ivy League schools despite undistinguished credentials, and both attended Harvard Law School.
And this from Stop-Obama:
From ages 0 to 2, Obama was growing up in a family of two inexperienced but economically secure, College Students. From 2-6 he was with his rich grandparents. From 6 – 10, with his well-off stepfather employed by Exxon Oil in Jakarta, living in elite conditions and neighborhoods designated for foreigners. From age 10 to College Days, Obama lives the Tropical Life with two well off grandparents. One rich, the other idle. Their income was upper upper upper. Since it was they, not Ann, that sponsored most of Obama’s education right through Occidental College, it is their income, and not the perennially absent-student mother, that impacted Obama’s status.
Like Obama, Michelle did not attend an average middle class university, but graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School. Unlike Obama, this seems to had less to do with her parent’s privilege, although it would have been less likely without her father’s significantly above average income.
Michelle grew up in a supremely middle-class neighborhood and house, but her father already earned 25 % more than a high-school teacher at the time. Considering that high-school teachers have on average earned 20% above the national median, another 25 % above this means that the Robinsons’ household would have found itself anywhere from 35th to 25th income percentile for the nation.
So while most young couples struggle, let’s talk about the real facts – that neither the Obamas nor the Romneys were raised in poverty. And let’s have a real discussion about our country’s future and the economic impact of the debt and Obama’s policies on our children and grandchildren so they can have the same life choices we had.