Despite Republican rumours, Michelle Obama probably won’t be the next president | Arwa Mahdawi

Michelle Obama is (probably) not going to be the next president

I hope you’re not squeamish, because we are about to journey into the murky depths of the rightwing mind where brain worms abound.

First up is the Republican preoccupation du jour: the Taylor Swift election-interference psyop rumours. According to a recent poll, nearly one in five Americans (and one in three Republicans) believe the pop star is part of an elaborate deep-state conspiracy to help Joe Biden win re-election in 2024. Fox News has naturally helped to amplify those rumours. Last month, host Jesse Watters told viewers that “around four years ago, the Pentagon’s psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset”. (There’s no doubt, of course, that Biden’s team would love Swift’s extremely valuable endorsement, but chasing celebrity support is not exactly some sort of nefarious plot.)

Despite thinking that Swift is somehow brainwashing us all into getting Biden re-elected, an increasing number of Republicans also seem convinced that Michelle Obama is actually going to be the next president. There have been misogynistic rumblings about this for a while now in conservative circles. Last May, for example, Kurt Schlichter at Townhall said that Republicans are “right to dread” the idea that we might see another Obama in the White House. “The kind of Chardonnay-swilling, overly credentialed and undereducated, sexually unsatisfied suburban wine women who adore Michelle Obama are going to be a key demographic in 2024, and Michelle owns them lock, stock and Häagen-Dazs,” Schlichter proclaimed in a stunningly sexist speech.

Ted Cruz also said last September he thinks the “odds are very significant” that Biden will be thrown off the ticket at the Democratic national convention this summer and Obama will be parachuted in as the nominee instead. And in January, far-right congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene told The Benny Show she thinks Democrats will try to replace Biden with Obama.

While the 2024 theories have been circulating for a while now, they’ve been supercharged in recent weeks – so much so that they’re trending and CNN is now debating the rumours.

To be fair, the idea that we might see Michelle Obama in the White House isn’t as bonkers as many other rightwing conspiracy theories. Biden, after all, isn’t exactly instilling confidence right now. Young voters (and anyone with a conscience) are dismayed that “Genocide Joe” is giving a blank cheque to Israel as it commits what the International Court of Justice has said is a “plausible” genocide in Gaza. An NBC poll from December found that 70% of voters aged 18-34 oppose his Gaza policy, and that has contributed to Biden’s low approval ratings.

Then there’s the question of Biden’s age and mental competency. Earlier this month a report from the justice department characterized the president as an “elderly man with a poor memory” who couldn’t even recall when his older son, Beau, had died. An outraged Biden defended his memory in a speech spurred by the report … and then immediately confused Mexico with Egypt.

In short: it is certainly plausible that Democrats have considered who they might parachute in to replace Biden if his health forces him from the ballot. It’s also plausible that Michelle Obama’s name has been raised as a possibility. After all, there isn’t a great list of possible replacements out there, is there? Kamala Harris (who recently told the Wall Street Journal she is “ready to serve” if need be) has terrible approval ratings. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, is a possibility, but he’s untested on a national level. The same is true of Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, who has been floated as a possible candidate.

But while the idea that we might see Michelle Obama as the nominee is not impossible, it’s incredibly unlikely. Still, you can expect to see Republicans continuing to spout the theory as much as they possibly can because it gives them an opportunity to engage in their two favourite pastimes: being racist and misogynistic.

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Caitlin Clark: the supernova driving women’s basketball to new heights

The University of Iowa star is smashing records and, says the Guardian, is “front and center of a boom time that is lifting the women’s game to uncharted commercial heights”.

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Al Jazeera has a nice piece on an all-women team tending to the bees that help pollinate a mangrove forest in Senegal.

The week in pawtriarchy

We’ve seen emotional-support dogs, horses, guinea pigs and even alligators. Now meet the “emotional support monkey”. A woman in San Antonio recently brought two spider monkeys to a doctor’s appointment at a military clinic. While people have successfully claimed that their monkeys are service animals (one man even flies with his), this particular encounter didn’t go well. Turns out the military is not fond of people monkeying around.


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