Friday, March 6, 2009

This Is Poverty In America?

The Los Angeles Times' 'Top of the Ticket' reported on yesterday's visit by First Lady Michelle Obama to a Washington soup kitchen:

First Lady Michelle Obama showed up Thursday as a surprise and welcome volunteer at Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen for homeless poor people not far from the White House.

She brought with her some food donated by White House staff.

Say WHAT? Note to Michelle: If the food came from the White House, the American taxpayer donated it.

The first lady served up mushroom risotto and broccoli to a long line of homeless men and women during part of her lunch hour and in these photos poses for a picture by one homeless diner obviously excited to be in the first lady's presence.

Mushroom risotto? Uh, okay. It doesn't seem like an obvious choice to me and at least it wasn't Kobe beef, but whatever. The real kicker in this sentence is the next phrase. The man in the photo is described as a 'homeless diner' who, before noshing on his mushroom risotto and broccoli, whips out his CELL PHONE CAMERA to take a picture of Michelle O.

To the L.A. Times' credit, their reporter asked some of the same questions I did: If the man is too poor to feed himself, how can he afford a cell phone? If he is homeless, where does the service provider mail the bill? I would add one other the American taxpayer providing him with this 'necessity', too?

Obama said she hoped her service would cause other Americans to volunteer to help the less fortunate in their own communities.

And, of course, such images of need might also help build support for her husband's economic and healthcare reform agenda, although a Miriam's spokeswoman said their average "guest" has been homeless since about the time Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

Eh, images of need? Plump, healthy-looking people with cell phone cameras at the ready wouldn't represent images of poverty to most Americans, Michelle. Will someone get her a clue, please?

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