First Lady Michelle Obama Wednesday unveiled her own personal monument, to be situated in perpetuity on the White House grounds.
Mrs. Obama showcased the latest version of her White House vegetable garden, which has now nearly tripled in size since it’s first iteration in 2009 and has been sealed with cement to make sure nobody tears it up.
“I take great pride in knowing that this little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes and dreams we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children,” Mrs. Obama said, calling the garden, “my baby.”
The baby has grown from 1,100 square feet to 2,800 and now features wider walkways covered by bluestone instead of sawdust, a large stone-paved seating area, and a grand archway that has been cemented into the ground.
Any attempt to rip all of this out it will be a major undertaking that would incur charges of racism and so forth. It’s Michelle’s monument, and it’s here to stay.
The White House boasted that it has secured $2.5 million in private funding to help maintain the garden. But it’s not clear how much of the total cost that money covers and how long it would last. It doesn’t appear to foot the bill for all the new cement and stones.
No doubt the “White House kitchen garden” will be referred to colloquially as the “Michelle Obama Garden.” Right up there with the Truman balcony and so forth. What other first lady has done this? The East Garden only became the “Jacqueline Kennedy Garden” after Ladybird Johnson dedicated it to her, for obvious reasons. What’s more, that was a redesign, not a whole new thing.
Even Donald Trump has expressed reticence about doing major projects on the White House grounds.
“If I were elected I would probably look at the White House, and maybe touch it up a little bit,” Trump told People Magazine last year. “But the White House is a special place, you don’t want to do much touching.”
He has enough monuments to himself. Let’s hope he keeps his word.
Incredibly, in her remarks, Mrs. Obama took credit for all sorts of changes she says have occurred in the nation’s food culture:
And these numbers don’t even begin to capture the kind of transformational culture change that we’ve seen since we launched Let’s Move!
I mean, after an era of everything being super-sized, who would have thought that major companies would be racing to market smaller, lower-calorie versions of their snacks and beverages – from half-sized candy bars to little, mini soda cans. We see it everywhere we go.
Who would have predicted that a marketing campaign for fruits and vegetables would get 1 billion media impressions and feature product endorsements from athletes like Steph Curry?
Who would have thought that chain restaurants focused solely on salad would be the hottest new trend, or that those fitness bracelets would be so common that we wouldn’t even notice them any longer, or that Kwik Trip would sell an average of 400 pounds of bananas per store per day, or that we’d take it for granted that we can get apples and skim milk in kids’ meals at fast food places. Today we just assume that we can find healthy options at the drive-thru. So it’s not surprising that childhood obesity rates in this country have stopped rising, and they’ve even started falling for our youngest kids.
That’s the kind of change we’ve seen in just six and a half years.
You remember “the era of everything being supersized.” That was during the bad old Bush years.
Michelle was careful to add some false modesty. “And make no mistake about it, all of this didn’t happen because of me,” she said. “It happened because of all of you. That’s why we thought it was so important to invite you to this celebration.”
I don’t know. This seems to say “established” by “Michelle Obama,” not “established by all of you.”
She seems to think she is responsible for everything from the bell peppers at Chipotle to the pineapple on a Papa John’s pizza. But it’s not clear what effect she has had, other than to add new government regulations and programs. The childhood obesity rate has indeed leveled off at about 17 percent – but that began around 2003 when, as I remember it, Bush was president. Adult obesity rates have continued to grow slowly under Obama, just as they have since the mid-1990s, when dramatic growth leveled off.
Maybe that information is carved into a different stone.
H/T to Mark Levin, who was the first I heard discussing this as a monument.