Why Sarah Palin's Attack on Michelle Obama Makes No Sense

Last Updated Nov 30, 2010 10:39 AM EST

Last week, Sarah Palin took yet another big grizzly paw swipe at Michelle Obama, telling conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that the First Lady's anti-childhood obesity "kick" amounts to a big government takeover of our food choices. The comments, which follow a cookie handout stunt at a school fundraiser in Pennsylvania, reveal that there may actually be nothing the Obama administration could do that Palin wouldn't be able to criticize.

They also suggest that Palin has no idea what Obama's Let's Move campaign is actually about. Hint: it's based on voluntary and light-handed approaches, perhaps to a fault.

Here's what Palin said when asked by Ingraham what she thought of Michelle Obama and her "injection of herself into policy":
Take her anti-obesity thing that she's on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. And..and..and I know I'm going to be again criticized for bringing this up, but instead of a government thinking that they need to take over and make decisions for us according to some politician or politician's wife priorities, just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.
While accusations of government intrusion into private lives obviously score points with Palin's Tea Party base, they're about as useful and relevant as the former governor's implication that if we do nothing obesity will just take care of itself. Here are the main tenants of Obama's Let's Move:
In other words, Obama wants to give incentives to businesses to open in new markets, empower parents to make good choices, prod food companies to make voluntary changes and offer school kids the option of a salad for lunch.

Definitely a government takeover. Ingraham, who seems to also be a fervent defender of our God-given right to eat cookies and get fat, wrote on her blog:
While the goal of educating children about healthy eating is laudable, using the heavy hand of government to mandate food choices or to use millions of taxpayer dollars to push any First Lady's initiatives isn't.
But Obama isn't mandating anything. The closest you're going to get to anyone being forced to do anything is the American Academy of Pediatrics' plan, part of Let's Move, to encourage all pediatricians in the US to measure the body mass index of children at wellness visits. And that's still just a recommendation.

Instead of going big government, Obama is promoting exactly what Palin and Ingraham advise -- letting local communities play a role in fostering healthy lifestyles. Obama is making her program grassroots by getting cities like Newark involved and she's just launched "Let's Move Faith and Communities," an effort to get churches participating.

If anything, Obama has pulled punches in her approach to fighting obesity. She's been mum on two of the most important and controversial issues -- the farm subsidies that make unhealthy food cheap and the avalanche of food marketing dollars that go towards encouraging kids to eat less than healthy food.

Obesity is an incredibly troubling problem, but to Palin the issue seems to be nothing more than a gimmick to advance her nanny state narrative. Maybe when she runs for president, she'll actually come up with some constructive ideas to a problem that wreaks havoc on people's lives and costs the country $168 billion a year in medical costs. Or maybe she'll just hand out more cookies.

Image by Flckr user asecondhandconjecture
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