Is an Open Mic Night Ever a Good Idea?

PBS wants your questions for David Brooks. Of those posted so far, I like “DOES MICHELLE OBAMA MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE A WUSS, WUSSY-BOY?” best:

You have been bitingly dismissive about Michelle Obama’s toned and
often revealed arms, naming her biceps “Thunder and Lightning” and
suggesting it was time for her to “put them away.” In the whirlwind of
journalistic controversy surrounding her occasional choice to go
sleeveless, pictures of other bare-armed first ladies in years gone by
have surfaced, most notably Jackie Kennedy in her official White House
portrait. These were taken in older times when dress codes were
generally more formal and modest, and yet in their day, they inspired
no such controversy. I am left wondering if this is because the arms of
these women were delicate appendages hanging gracefully in repose, not
the toned, strong, and capable-looking arms of our current first lady.

My question is threefold:
1. Do you think it is the (arguably enviable) musculature of Michelle
Obama’s arms that inspires discomfort in some people (yourself
included), and not the exposure itself? In other words, if her arms
were simply thin and not defined, would her sleeveless-ness even be an
2. If yes to the above, do you think any person’s optimum fitness will
always inspire criticism in some who are less fit because it makes them
feel inferior? Or does is it optimum fitness in women specifically,
because women are not supposed to be stronger than men?
3. It seems a loaded question, but it is an earnest one and I would
appreciate your thoughtful response: if she were white and blond (oh,
heck, let’s throw in ‘republican,’ too), and dressed the exact same
way, do you think Michelle Obama would have inspired this kind of
criticism? Is there a kind of “How dare you?” element to this whole


6 thoughts on “Is an Open Mic Night Ever a Good Idea?

  1. Mr. Brooks, is there any truth to the rumors that Gail Collins now refuses to go sleeveless around you, and that she has informed the NYT H.R. office specifically that she will stop participating in your joint “conversations” on the Op-Ed page, unless you refrain from continually pinching her upper arms and saying “Storms a’ comin’!”?

  2. Now that I bethink me of it, we never heard this kind of whining from Davey about Ann Coulter in that eternal black SLEEVELESS cocktail dress.

  3. Ha! I’m humbled, thanks for the props. (For the record, suspected misogyny aside, I actually kind of like the guy. I wasn’t just going for a personal dig, either; I really am interested in his response. Hope I get one!)

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