Protests force Holder, Michelle Obama to cancel speeches; What's going on?
By Andrew Malcolm
Posted 09:12 AM ET
Is there an anti-Obama rebellion brewing out there in the Heartland?
Looks like it in the lame duck's absence. This week two prominent administration members -- including First Lady Michelle Obama -- were forced to cancel planned speeches there in the face of protests and even a high school student petition opposing her scheduled graduation speech.
Obama himself is in Asia for a week of toasts and visits to a few countries we haven't borrowed billions from yet.
His job approval rating hovers at or just below the mid-forties with disapproval 10 points higher. Obama's credibility still suffers from his misbegotten serial untruths about ObamaCare and, likely, over-exposure; the more he speaks, it seems, the less people listen, even in his select crowds of faithful.
Obama's wife and beleaguered attorney general, Eric Holder, the first cabinet member ever held in contempt by Congress, love to stand at podiums too. And this is a popular speech season. Politicians like to associate themselves with happy family times like graduations.
They make for smiley photo-ops while the pols deliver their prescribed talking points to the more important audiences beyond the cameras.
But it seems a group of students and their parents figured out they were about to become breathing props for another day-trip appearance by Mrs. Obama.
She wanted to speak in Topeka, Kansas, site of the once-segregated school in the historic Supreme Court Brown vs Board of Education decision. May 17 is the ruling's 60th anniversary.
Topeka had scheduled its high schools' combined graduation ceremonies for an 8,000-seat arena that day.
Taylor Gifford, an 18-year-old senior, said she was initially excited about Mrs. Obama's visit. But then the realization hit that the first lady's sizable entourage, security and media spotlight would completely take over, politicize and overshadow what students and their families had thought would be their big day. Not to mention squeeze out a lot of family members who had planned to attend.
So, Gifford launched an online petition. Apparently, it struck a community chord. Shortly, she had almost 2,000 signatures. And what was supposed to be a smiley photo-op had turned into an embarrassing White House imposition on families in the home state of the president's mother.
Thursday a White House spokeswoman said they "were eager to find a solution." You betcha. Now, Mrs. Obama will give remarks to a smaller gathering a day before the actual SCOTUS anniversary.
Holder enjoys his trips and speeches too. Two weeks ago, remember, the nation's chief law enforcement officer flew up to New York to hail and dine with Al Sharpton, the chronic tax delinquent, and tell Sharpton supporters about his mistreatment by Congress.
You might wonder why Obama's attorney general, who refuses to provide so many 'Fast and Furious' documents to Congress, can instead find the time to fly halfway across the country to address a graduating class of Oklahoma City police cadets.
You wouldn't be alone in such wonderment.
Turns out, Holder decided those new police officers weren't all that important after all.
When word got out about Holder's Thursday speech, hundreds of opponents set a downtown protest, including Rep. James Lankford.
“Given his numerous questionable decisions," Lankford said, "his unwillingness to cooperate with congressional investigations and his Justice Department’s opacity under this President, he would not be my first choice to stand as this Administration’s example of justice, leadership and integrity.”
"This man has used his position to advance his own political agenda," said state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, "and that’s not right. He swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and defend it for all of us — not some of us.”
Doggone it, a Holder spokesman said. “The Attorney General had been looking forward to addressing the cadets and regrets he cannot attend in person.”
He explained that Holder had a Washington meeting that went long. He just couldn't make it to Oklahoma.
And if you believe that, we've got a health plan you can keep if you like it.