In the hard scrabble world of our daily lives, we tend to miss the less obvious but more enduring accomplishments of the Obama presidency. We’re too busy squabbling over taxes and deficits, unemployment figures and the national debt. And then along comes a reminder from pop star Beyonce (above, right), paying tribute to First Lady Michelle Obama for her historic contribution to the American story.
The African American singer makes a vitally important point: Whatever else they may have accomplished, however else you may think they have failed, the Obamas have provided a mirror in which black Americans can view themselves in the most complimentary light.
Nobody can fault Mrs. Obama’s behavior. She is a lady in every sense of the word. She is regal but unpretentious, stylish but dignified, earnest but playful… And she is as admirable inside as she is outside, always compassionate, always listening to her better angels.
This is the kind of role model Americans – black and white – need.
Enslaved and oppressed, African-Americans have endured much over the years, more than anyone could be expected to bear. And too often, the response has been hostility and rebellion or submission and defeat.
In the Obama experience, we have undeniable proof that a black American couple can hold their heads high and walk among the most distinguished members of any race without self-consciousness or bombast – and without resentment or bitterness.
It is a magnificent display.
This fine American family demonstrates that we can let go of the past and move on – whether we are black or white or Hispanic or Asian, or any other ethnic label under the sun – toiling together to build a better society, a better world.
I don’t know how this election will turn out. But I know that whatever happens, the Obamas will have left an everlasting legacy for the country they so obviously love.