M.Obama has received some unattractive flack from conservative corners of the mediasquawk in reference to her garden. Apparently, the cantankerous few think her efforts too little – too foolish during a recession (obviously, they weren’t reading here about why it is, in fact, such a very clever idea!). The criticism seems to lie in the fact that M.Obama is not gardening alone, but rather enlisting the services of the White House staff to support her efforts and that a “true” gardener needs to put in a lot more time and effort than she is able to afford – what with her dates to NYC and travels abroad whilst most Americans are learning the joys of “staycations” this year. While I find the latter part of that logic somewhat interesting, I do not find it relevant considering that she was a salaried worker not too long ago and is now at the beck-and-call of the President and the country now. Her time is not her own. Therefore how she chooses to spend the little spare time she has, seems quite poignant and relevant for these dire economic days.
While the news seems to be singing “Happy Days are Here Again” in the hopes of uplifting our collective monetary malaise, there are more than a damn few Americans struggling to get by. The idea of talking up an economic upswing for Spring 2010, toward the optimistic chance that such will come to fruition is foolhardy and selfish in the extreme. There are no real indicators that the worst is over. A long-rear-view glance at 20th century economic history will actually scare the bejeezus out of anyone savvy enough to connect the dots from the early part of last century to our own historical moment. M.Obama is a fairly clever person in her own right. That is precisely why she is making such an effort to play up the homegrown style of American hospitality. Next month when M.Obama is socializing on an international scale, for the benefit of all Americans (even those crusty naysayers), she is planning a garden luncheon at a somewhat “real” farm with ostensibly fresh ingredients served to her counterparts from around the world while the leaders discuss the world’s economic struggles with an effort toward resolving the worst before a repeat performance depression blossoms out of control. For sure, it is a nasty and difficult time for many Americans – my own sunbelt locale is one of the hardest hit by the current money crisis and I am investing in school supplies for teachers as well as my own students. That being said, I continue to believe that M.Obama spends much of her time encouraging everyday-Americans (not the media), to re-think lifestyle, adjust expectations, to invest in a bounty that can nurture the future.
It’s not like M.Obama can just go out and get a job, and if she did try to do that she would be taking the place of another worker who might really need that income right now while she does not. She is engaging in her role with a diplomacy that far surpasses any first ladying we have seen in a long time.