BREAKING: Trump Launches Attacks on 2 Signature Michelle Obama Programs
Trump Attacks Poor Children to Attack Michelle Obama
During her 8 years as First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama developed a number of education and health programs to help young people generally, and young girls specifically, both in the US and overseas. She was an activist First Lady without wading overtly into politics. But now Donald Trump has launched a political broadside against two programs pioneered by America’s last First Lady, CNN reported Monday.
Michelle and President Barack Obama launched the “Let Girls Learn” program in 2015. The program was designed to increase educational opportunities for adolescent girls in developing countries, and ran under the auspices of the Peace Corps and the United States Agency for International Development. Trump decided to kill the program. An internal memo ordered the program to “cease operation immediately.” CNN reported,
While aspects of the initiative’s programming will continue, employees have been told to stop using the “Let Girls Learn” name and were told that, as a program unto itself, “Let Girls Learn” was ending.
“Moving forward, we will not continue to use the ‘Let Girls Learn’ brand or maintain a stand-alone program,” read an email sent to Peace Corps employees this week by the agency’s acting director Sheila Crowley.
” ‘Let Girls Learn’ provided a platform to showcase Peace Corps’ strength in community development, shining a bright light on the work of our Volunteers all over the world,” Crowley wrote. “We are so proud of what ‘Let Girls Learn’ accomplished and we have all of you to thank for this success.”
The Trump administration also targeted the program that Michelle is perhaps most famous for, the National School Lunch Program. This program was designed to combat childhood obesity by setting benchmarks for public schools to meet in providing healthy food options for children attending public schools. This program was sorely needed in certain poorer districts where underfunded schools contracted out to snack food and soda companies to raise extra money, and where some children might be getting breakfast and lunch, possibly their only meals of the day.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visited a suburban elementary school in Virginia to announce the rule change on Monday, CNN reported. Perdue said that schools would now be allowed “regulatory flexibility.” Right wing propaganda rag Hot Air crowed that Trump had “made lunch edible again,” and gloated that Michelle was “hardest hit.’
It was not immediately clear what exactly “regulatory flexibility” would mean. But activists involved with the program were worried that it would end the program’s benchmarks, which would effectively gut the program. American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown told CNN,
“Rather than altering the current path forward, we hope the agency focuses more on providing technical assistance that can help schools get across the finish line, if they haven’t done so already,”
For the entire 8 years of Obama’s presidency, the right wing media bashed Michelle Obama in horrifically racist and misogynistic terms. The superheated rhetoric surrounding her often sounded as if it had been ripped the pages of a book about caricatures of Black people in the Antebellum South. Despite this, Michelle was a constant model of grace and poise while her programs broadly helped the children of people who likely only learned anything about her from Fox “News.” During the 2016 election, she coined the oft-quoted refrain, “When they go low, we go high.”
Trump seems determined to model the negative quality of that line, to show the country and the world just how low he can go. This seems personal for Trump, whose apparent loathing for his predecessor is unrivaled in living memory. But it is also red meat thrown to his base. Giving the rabid far right symbolic victories seems to be the only thing Trump can accomplish as he fails again and again to accomplish anything legislatively, despite the Republican party holding all the levers of power in Washington.
Trump probably believes that going after Michelle’s programs hurts her or gets even with her for some perceived slight, in the logic of a bully. But it just makes him seem like a comic book villain. He is hurting girls in poor countries and kids in poor school districts in order to attack the former First Lady. The office of the presidency demands a certain nobility of character. Trump pisses on that demand.
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