Eric Boehlert – Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America Posted: 1/5/12 03:18 PM ET
The dawning of an election year is certain to bring more attacks on Michelle Obama from the far-right press, which for years has unleashed an unprecedented barrage of name-calling assaults on the First Lady; assaults that in the past would have been deemed unthinkable by even partisan opponents who routinely avoided targeting First Ladies and their mostly ceremonial duties.
But to hear them tell it, it’s all the First Lady’s fault. Conservatives become unglued because Obama’s so busy pressing their buttons with her nutrition activism, which apparently drives them bonkers and causes staffers at Fox News to fabricate fairy tales.
According to the haters, what kind of conservative wouldn’t be offended by the Nanny State rhetoric emanating from the White House, with all that big government hand-wringing about people eating too much food, when everyone knows the answer to obesity is to just eating less food, and that exerting a little personal responsibility can cure this problem overnight.
Indeed, the guttural response to the First Lady ‘s nutritional efforts has been so strong the right-wing media now practically campaign in favor of obesity, applying the simple, albeit deranged, rule that if Michelle Obama supports healthy food and exercise, it must be bad.
The First Lady’s incessant critics insist intrusive nutrition activism goes way too far and invites their angry response. I mean, just look at this goody-goody health rhetoric:
We’re just too darned fat.
Overweight and obesity are among the most pressing new health challenges we face today.
The fight against obesity begins at home.
America needs to get healthier one small step at a time. Each small step does make a difference, whether it’s taking the stairs instead of an elevator or snacking on fruits and vegetables.
Americans need to understand that overweight and obesity are literally killing us.
Can’t you just hear conservatives complaining about how meddling and annoying the First Lady is?
Right, except all those above quotes came from Tommy Thompson while serving as President Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Except that it was Thompson who once urged every American to lose ten pounds as a patriotic gesture, and suggested Congress pass tax credits for people who thinned down. (Talk about a big government approach!)
Except that the previous Republican administration, like the current one, loudly rang the alarm about the nation’s obesity epidemic, while beseeching kids to eat healthier and to exercise more.
In 2004, the Bush Administration and Republican-led Congress passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, requiring USDA to update the standards to align school meal patterns with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
And yes, even former First Lady Laura Bush often spoke out about child obesity, highlighting proactive public policy solutions: “Our government is working to address one of the greatest dangers to America’s young people: childhood overweight and obesity.”