UPDATE: For a full discussion of the future First Lady's Princeton thesis, see Chapter 10 ("Mrs. All That") of my new book on Obama. You can, for a limited time, read it online for free here (1.8 meg PDF file).
The Obama camp has now released Michelle Obama's senior thesis at Princeton. So far, I've read the Dedication and the first couple of pages of the Introduction, and that's plenty. You've got to be impressed with how ruthless Senator Obama is -- he'll humiliate his poor wife by releasing her semi-literate college graduation maunderings just so he can say, "Let's move on."
To Mom, Dad, Craig [her brother], and all of my special friends:
Thank-you for loving me and always making me feel good about myself.
And here's part of her creatively punctuated Introduction:
"The purpose of this study is to examine various attitudes of Black Princeton alumni in their present state and as they are perceived by the alumni to have changed over time. ...
"These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow by attending Princeton will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant. This realization has presently, made my goals to actively utilize my resources to benefit the Black community more desirable."
Well, thank-you. You have presently, made my day; never having a better one.
(I originally figured this 1985 thesis was created on a typewriter, which would have made it harder to fix typos, but the columns are justified, so it was done on some sort of word processor. Still, Princeton grads are supposed to know that there is no hyphen in "thank you" ...)
So, it looks like Barack has had his vengeance on Michelle for calling him "stinky" and "snore-y."
Okay, it's schoolgirlish in style, especially compared to her husband's sonorous mature prose, but she was only 21 when she wrote it. The important thing, though, is that the artlessness of her writing allows the meaning to shine through more obviously than in Dreams From My Father -- but it's the same Story of Race and Inheritance.
And she sure has some self-esteem issues, doesn't she? I think that's part of her appeal to the Oprah audience: her inflated but fragile ego. Oprah's fans can identify with Mrs. Obama. People were always telling them that they weren't smart enough either; and, yet, here they are, sitting around watching daytime TV. Who's laughing now?
For some reason, Mrs. Obama's psyche always reminds me of Steve Martin's climactic speech in "Three Amigos:"
"In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!"
Keep in mind that Mrs. Obama not only got into Princeton, but then got into Harvard Law School, graduated, and even passed the Illinois bar exam. So, maybe, prose just isn't her strong suit.
A reader comments:
The Illinois Supreme Court website says Michelle Obama was admitted to the bar on May 12, 1989 and voluntarily went inactive in 1993.
Barak Obama was admitted December 17, 1991 and went inactive this year.
A reader who is an attorney in Illinois explains:
The May admission to the bar is for those who took the Winter (March I think) bar exam. Most take the July bar exam, and I think were admitted in October, so I don't understand Obama's date of admission. Not everyone who graduates in May takes the July exam, but in Mrs. Obama's case she was already at Sidley and Austin, so I'd guess her main job would've been studying for the bar exam. So, the guess would be she didn't pass the July exam and did pass the winter exam, what with over half a year of studying for it. Now, many folks who attend schools like Harvard aren't really taught the things that are on bar exams, if only because many of their profs don't want to teach it (too boring).