Lip-reading with the Obamas


Image by yorgak via Flickr

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” — Matthew 6:22-23

“‘Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi’ (The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter)” — Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

A lot is going to be made of the video being talked about today (see below), and about the political interpretation of it, on both sides. As much as I don’t relish the thought of America’s political discourse turning to lip reading analysis, it has to be said that judging by the Obamas’ prior behavior and statements regarding the greatness and exceptional nature of America, this time it warrants a closer look.

I grew up lip reading because my saintly mother has cerebral palsy. To me it looks like Michelle Obama is saying exactly what others think she’s saying…something negative about the flag or the ceremony.

I found a person in the comments section of an post about it who claims to be a lip reader (has two kids who are deaf) and who said that Michelle is saying “What’s that for, that flag?”. But then another person on a separate blog (can’t find it now…sorry), who claims to be a special ed teacher, says it’s “Talk about adding fuel to the fire.” Yet a third person posted that reported her as saying “What a beautiful flag”, but I don’t find any evidence of that on the site.

So, it’s a toss-up, I guess.

Still, the telling eye-roll/blink and the body language of both of them bothers me.  Body language counts for a lot in human communication. I can’t help but consider that the comment was not a benign one.

If nothing can be concluded about what she actually said, and if you’re the sort who still reveres and respects the flag, let us at least agree to the blatant disrespect of making any comments at all during the flag ceremony honoring those slaughtered in the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. She could have…should have, at the very least for the sake of the image of the Office of the President…saved her remarks for later–when the cameras weren’t rolling.


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