Politics

Creepy: Michelle Obama Asks Me to Sign Obama’s Birthday Card

| by The Volokh Conspiracy

By Jim Lindgren

I received the following email from First Lady Michelle Obama:

SUBJECT: Will you sign Barack’s birthday card, James?

James –

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Every year, our family tries to come up with a fun way to wish Barack a happy birthday.

And this August 4th, when he turns 49, I have something new in mind.

This has been a big — and hectic — year for him. After signing the Affordable Care Act and Wall Street reform into law — and completing his first year as president — I think it’s safe to say we will remember it for a long time.

And I know full well how much he credits this movement, and the work of supporters like you, for the change that we’ve accomplished.

So I’m putting together a birthday card that I would like you to sign. Together with other Organizing for America supporters — and me, Malia, Sasha, and Bo — we’ll wish him a happy birthday and let him know that we’re ready to take on the year ahead alongside him.

Will you wish Barack a happy birthday with me?

This year also brought a lot of surprises — some good and some bad.

Supporters like you have helped him make the best of it — by contacting Congress to help push stalled legislation forward, by re-engaging supporters in the political process, by giving back with service projects across the country, and so much more.

And while we can’t know what the coming year will bring, all of us, working together, will continue pushing forward for change.

Will you help make this a memorable birthday for Barack and wish him a happy 49th?

http://my.barackobama.com/birthday

Thanks so much,

Michelle Obama

I find it hard to say precisely why I find this a bit creepy. At one level this seems innocuous enough–and it is definitely not a big thing. 

At another level, asking millions of Americans to sign a birthday card for the President suggests a tone-deafness about the cult of personality. If we lived in a dictatorship, getting millions of subjects to celebrate the Dear Leader’s birthday would be routine, but in a free republic this appeal to get millions to celebrate an elected president’s birthday strikes a discordant note to my ear. 

No, I am not saying we are in a dictatorship; I am saying that because we are not, we should not be emulating the trappings characteristic of that fundamentally different sort of regime. 

Last, it seems strange for Michelle Obama to be trying to get us to celebrate her husband’s birthday when she is scheduled to be in Spain with her daughters during the President’s birthday.