Michelle Obama Killed “Locker Room” Talk Justification, Once & For All
Speaking at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke out forcefully against Donald Trump's "locker room talk" defense. Obama called out the highly problematic justification for such rhetoric, saying "To dismiss this as everyday ‘locker room’ talk is an insult to decent men everywhere."
At a campaign event for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at Southern New Hampshire University, Obama’s voice was filled with emotion as she spoke about the comments made by the Republican nominee, saying it “has shaken me to my core in a way I could not have predicted.”
“Last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said. “I can't believe I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.”
And while she was able to articulate the outrage and shock that many have felt since Trump’s comments emerged last week, she was also able to deliver an unequivocal rejection of the “locker room talk” defense. “This was not just lewd conversation,” she said. “This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexual predatory behavior.”
It was a forceful and effective rhetorical move by Obama, re-casting Trump’s comments not only as words hostile to women, but turning his defense into an attack on men as well. “Strong men… don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful,” she said.
The words themselves may have been specifically aimed at women, but the “boys will be boys” argument that the GOP nominee’s campaign has used in the days following the release of the Access Hollywood tape paints all men with Trump’s brush, and more importantly, underscores the idea that if men aren’t opposing that kind of behavior, they’re co-signing it.
“This isn’t about politics, it’s about basic human decency,” the First Lady asserted.
Perhaps most importantly, though, Obama finished her speech by bringing the election into immediate, practical terms, noting that in 2012, Barack Obama won New Hampshire by only 40,000 votes statewide, an average of 66 votes per precinct. “You could... help swing an entire precinct for Hillary’s opponent with a protest vote or by staying home out of frustration,” Obama noted. “Imagine waking up November the 9th and looking into the eyes of your daughter or son or looking into your own eyes as you stare into the mirror,” she warned, hypothesizing about a Trump victory.
In the final months of the campaign, Obama has been called “Hillary’s best surrogate.” Her speech in New Hampshire not only obliterated Trump’s defenses — it masterfully turned voting for Clinton into a the highest civic and moral obligation.