There's One Name Michelle Obama Isn't Saying

by Morgan Brinlee

As the Republican presidential nominee has dominated headlines since his campaign began, Donald Trump's controversial antics have now made his name a rather "yuge" part of our daily lives. But there's one person who isn't uttering Trump's name, no matter how much he acts up. In a passionate and powerful speech at a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama took down Trump without saying his name.

Perhaps there is no better Trump critic than the first lady. Time and time again, she has proven herself to be one of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's most compelling and effective surrogates, and her speech Thursday at Southern New Hampshire University was no different. Although Obama didn't once mention Trump by name, she tore into his routine degradation of women and the worrisome example he sets for America's youth.

"The fact is that, in this election, we have a candidate for president of the United States who, over the course of his lifetime and the course of this campaign, has said things about women that are so shocking, so demeaning, that I simply will not repeat anything here today. And last week, we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexually assaulting women," Obama said in reference to a 2005 tape in which Trump boasts about being able to "do anything" to women because he is a celebrity. "I can't believe that I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women."

Generally, we use a person's name to signify (either consciously or subconsciously) their importance to us. In purposefully withholding Trump's name, Obama is sending a clear and powerful message to both voters and the Republican nominee: The man behind this bad behavior is not worth my time. Listeners have picked up on Obama's strategy, too, and many have applauded it as the perfect way to respond to someone with Trump's ego.

Yet, this wasn't the first time the first lady has stepped up to the mic to take down the Republican nominee without ever mentioning his name. She did it in July with her speech on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, in which she proclaimed, "When someone is cruel or acts like a bully you don't stoop to their level. No, our motto is, 'When they go low, we go high.'"

And she did it again while warning voters that "the presidency doesn't change who you are; it reveals who you are" in a speech at a rally in Philadelphia on Sept. 28:

So if a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fears, and lies on the trail, if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals, if they disrespect their fellow citizens... let me tell you, that is who they are. That is the kind of president they will be.

The fact of the matter is, Obama doesn't need to say Trump's name to offer up a scathing criticism of him. There's no doubt in anyone's mind whom the first lady was talking about when she discussed rejecting language that humiliates and disrespects women. We don't need to hear his name to know that Trump was clearly the target of Obama's fiery critique.