The controversy: Several far-right bloggers, claiming to be lip-readers, are accusing First Lady Michelle Obama of disparaging the American flag, based on video from a ceremony honoring victims of the 9/11 terrorism attacks (see the video below). In the clip, Mrs. Obama leans toward President Obama and says something — we can't hear what — as a bagpipe band plays and uniformed men fold a flag. The president nods in agreement. Though the first lady's mouth is partially obscured, many bloggers insist they know what she said — either "all this just for a flag," "all that for a flag," or "all of this for a damn flag" — because they can read her lips.
The reaction: This has to be "one of the dumbest flaps I've ever seen," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. This "garbage" only shows how "deranged the Obamas' detractors really are," and why "taking these bloggers seriously is a mistake." Sorry, but the video is plain enough, says James S. Robbins in The Washington Times. Mrs. Obama certainly "appears to say, 'All this for a flag.'" She's on record saying she was never truly proud of America until her husband ran for president, so why wouldn't she "dismiss a flag ceremony as just so much nonsense"? The only nonsense is that at "the heart of the modern Republican Party," says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. "Kill one crackpot theory — birtherism — and [right-wingers] will breed a hundred more. And you'll never persuade them that what they believe is delusional." Watch the video for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- If Democrats abandon immigration reform after Tuesday's likely loss, they will turn 2016 into a debacle
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Israel's quiet doomsday submarines are almost ready
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Feast your eyes on this beautiful linguistic family tree
- How languages are like food
Subscribe to the Week