Michelle Obama is an expert at firing off subtle shade president Donald Trump's way.
In fact, she stands against practically everything he stands for but somehow manages to never stoop to his level. We know he likes her speeches too, given that his wife Melania famously copied portions of Obama's speeches in 2016.
During one of her many iconic speeches on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Obama got through the whole thing without once mentioning the words “Donald” or “Trump”.
That’s not to say she didn’t swing the political punches or condemn any of his actions at the time. She managed to slate everything about the now-POTUS – from his “Grab ‘em by the pussy” remark to his tweeting habits.
So why not just say his name?
Well, Michelle’s husband and former president, Barack, explained it best when he said at the time:
He seems to do a good job mentioning his own name. So, I figure, you know, I will let him do his advertising for him[self].
There's lots of times where the former First Lady has managed to get her point across without even mentioning Trump.
With this in mind, we’re revisiting the 10 most iconic moments Michelle Obama took the president down – all without uttering his name.
1. "In America, we don't give in to our fears, we don't build up walls to keep people out"
- 3 June 2016
On the importance of diversity, she said:
Infusions of new cultures and new ideas, generation after generation, created the matchless alchemy of our melting pot and helped us build the strongest, most vibrant, most prosperous nation on the planet. Some folks out there today seem to have a very different perspective. They seem to view our diversity as a threat to be contained rather than as a resource to be tapped, they tell us to be afraid of those who are different. They act as if name calling is an acceptable substitute for thoughtful debate, as if anger and intolerance should be our default state.
In America, we don't give in to our fears, we don't build up walls to keep people out, because we know that our greatness has always depended on contributions from people born elsewhere but sought this country.
2. "When they go low, we go high"
- 25 Jul 2016
On raising her children while in the spotlight, she famously said:
How well we manage this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight. How we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith, how we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level.
No, our motto is: When they go low, we go high.
Watch the iconic moment:
3. "It’s not about sending insulting tweets or making fiery speeches"
- 16 September 2016
While on the campaign trail for Hilary Clinton in Fairfax, Virginia, she said:
Being president isn’t anything like reality TV. It’s not about sending insulting tweets or making fiery speeches, it’s about whether or not the candidate can handle the awesome responsibility of leading this country.
If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in project, fears, and lies on the trail, if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals, if they disrespect their fellow citizens including folks who made extraordinary sacrifices for our country, let me tell you, that is who they are.
4. "Someone who is tweeting at 3 am should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes"
- 4 October 2016
Again on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton but this time in Raleigh, North Carolina, Obama said:
When she gets knocked down, she doesn't complain, she doesn't cry foul.
She then slyly tapped her microphone, to raucous laughter in the audience.
The jibe was directed at Trump, who claimed his performance in the debate had been hampered by a malfunctioning microphone.
The former First Lady said in the same speech:
I think we can all agree that someone who is roaming around at 3 am tweeting should not have their fingers on the nuclear codes.
5. "They only know Barack Obama as their president and what that standard felt like"
- 3 October 2017
On the difference between her husband’s presidency and Trump’s presidency, she said in conversation with Shonda Rhimes at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women:
Many of the young people today, they only know Barack Obama as their president and what that standard felt like and what kind of messages were being talked about. They grew up only under hope and possibility and options and opportunity and creating more space... I think they will feel some of what's happening now as intrinsically not what they were taught.
I think that this generation will look at what is happening now in the world and they will say, 'This doesn't feel right because this wasn't what I was taught’.
6. "You don’t tweet every thought"
- 1 November 2017
In conversation with poet Elizabeth Alexander at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Obama said:
When you have a voice, you just can’t use it any kind of way. You don’t just say what’s on your mind. You don’t tweet every thought. I’m not talking about anybody in particular. I’m talking about us all… You need to think and spell it right and have good grammar, too.
7. "No one person can break all this"
- 28 November 2017
During a talk in Canada for “The Economics of Equality: Advancing Women and Girls to Change the World” event, she said:
One thing I’ve learned in politics. One person can’t make the change. Change is from the bottom up. Not the top down. And that’s a good thing... That means that no one person can break all this either.
On Trump's infamous tweeting habits, she said:
[It is] never a good idea… to tweet from bed.
And then on the importance of drafting tweets, she added:
Then you need to edit and spell-check it.
8. "I use social media. But I use it like a grown-up"
- 27 February 2018
During a health panel at Klick Health’s MUSE in New York and on using Twitter, she said:
I still haven’t figured it out because I’m old and I don’t understand most of social media... I tweet, but I have a committee. I don’t just tweet off the top of my head, which I don’t encourage people to do — especially kids.
How many kids do you know that the first thing that comes off the top of their head is the first thing they should express? You know? It’s like, ‘Take a minute. Talk to your crew before you put that [out there] and then spell check and check the grammar’.
I think kids do think telling it like it is and talking off the top of your head [is cool]… [but] that’s never been good. We weren’t raised like that. That’s rude. That’s what you call rude. But yes, I use social media. But I use it like a grown-up.
9. "This isn't a joke, this isn't a game"
- 6 July 2019
On what makes a good president, Obama said:
It's a hard job, y'all. This isn't a joke, this isn't a game – the leader of the free world with a tweet can start a war, can crush an economy, can change the future of our children.
[It requires] deep seriousness and focus… [and] having facts, operating with a clear base of facts and ideas... Someone who is careful with their words, somebody who is trustworthy, someone who is loyal and honest.
She added that some people in politics treat it like "it's a game.":
I fear at times Barack made it look easy – I guess it's kind of like if the black guy can do it, anybody can do it... and that's not true. It's a hard job.
10. "It's not my America or your America. It's our America"
- 19 July 2019
While defending Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley after Trump said they should “go back” to where they came from, Michelle Obama tweeted:
Truly iconic behaviour – keep it up, Michelle Obama.