For the most part, Michelle Obama is known for being someone who is friendly and easy to get along with. She doesn’t seem to have too many enemies, political or otherwise, because of her general philosophy of taking the higher road. But there is one person she has decided she will never forgive: Donald Trump.
As the president who was elected after Barack Obama completed two terms, Donald Trump was certainly the antithesis of the values that Michelle Obama had previously championed. However, it wasn’t what Trump did as president that angered Michelle, but something that he did many years ago instead.
Just what did Trump do? And how did Michelle Obama fire back? Keep reading to find out!
An early indication of how Michelle Obama really felt about Donald Trump
We wouldn’t really know how Michelle Obama felt about Donald Trump until she released her 2018 memoir Becoming. However, it wasn’t hard to learn how she felt about the man. And this was especially apparent at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
At this point, Donald Trump was well known for how he bullied various people he disliked, both in person and especially online via Twitter. That bullying behavior ramped up during his political rallies, and Michelle Obama briefly referenced Trump’s behavior at the DNC. During her own speech, she told the crowd her advice: “when they go low, we go high.”
The message was clear: Michelle Obama doesn’t believe that you fight bullying and mudslinging by doing the same thing in return. Instead, you take the high road. And unfortunately for Michelle, it wouldn’t be that long before she and her husband had to put this philosophy to the test.
How the Obamas put on a polite face for the Trumps
After Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, he and Melania met with Barack and Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day in 2017. There are many photos and videos of their meeting, which is how the social faux pas of Melania giving Michelle a Tiffany box went viral. Mostly, though, what people remember from the photos and videos is that the Obamas were very smiling and gracious when dealing with Donald Trump, a man who had repeatedly demeaned them.
Thanks to Michelle Obama’s memoir and subsequent interviews, we know that she seriously disliked Trump and that she was dreading this particular meeting altogether. But she put on a brave face and embodied the very values she preached to everyone else. When dealing with someone like Trump who had gone “low” so many times before, she felt she had no choice but to “go high” and be polite to him.
Donald Trump’s early flirtation with rightwing politics
In order to understand what Donald Trump did to make Michelle Obama so angry, we have to turn back the clock several years. Once upon a time, Donald Trump was not particularly attached to either the Republican party or right-wing politics in general. After they moved to New York, he was actually good friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton (which is particularly ironic given how he and Hillary would later become bitter political rivals).
However, Trump seemed to take an instant dislike of Barack Obama as president. And as reported by ABC News, Trump in 2011 (the same year he began making noise about running for president), Trump began echoing the online rightwing voices that claimed that Barack Obama was not actually born in America and insisting that he produce his birth certificate as proof of citizenship.
This helped to make Trump an early culture warrior celebrity, and as late as 2016 (long after Obama had, indeed, shown his birth certificate), he was still peddling the so-called “birther” conspiracy alongside other wild claims, including that Barack Obama somehow stared the terror group ISIS.
Michelle Obama’s understandable anger over the conspiracy theories
When Michelle Obama released her memoir Becoming, she didn’t hold back on how all of Donald Trump’s birther nonsense made her feel. As reported by CNBC, she wrote in the memoir that, “The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited” due to “its underlying bigotry and xenophobia.”
“But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she continued. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”
Michelle Obama spoke from the heart, and we can’t really blame her for how she feels. It’s understandable, then, that even as she smiled when meeting Trump on Inauguration Day a few years later, she was suffering on the inside. As she later said on her podcast The Light, she admitted she hating seeing “the opposite of what we represented on display” and that after she left the White House, she “cried for 30 minutes straight, uncontrollable sobbing.”
Just this once, it seems, when they go low, she goes cry.