Spread good will abroad and here

Don't begrudge first lady's trip to Africa -- but why not elevate home front too?

Some conservatives are hammering Michelle Obama -- again -- this time for jetting off to Africa on a good will visit while the economy is lagging.

Listening to some people, you have to wonder if the country's first lady has ever done anything right.

Her infamous vacation to a posh Spanish resort notwithstanding, we feel Mrs. Obama can be a fabulous ambassador -- particularly in Africa, where people can see that America's first family looks a lot like their own. She and her family engender good will just being there.

What in the world is wrong with that?

As for the expense, pshaw! Yes, we need to be frugal, but neither should our first family become shut-ins. We're not that poor yet.

Our only nit for the first lady is that she -- and her husband -- could profitably turn the charm on here at home -- in America's troubled cities. Many of our major urban areas are struggling both financially and spiritually. A focused campaign boosting both morale and morals in U.S. cities might do a world of good -- especially coming from the first African-American presidential administration.

We considered that perhaps the president was biding his time along that front, wanting to establish himself first as everyone's president before appearing to act as a "black president." But that time has long since passed, and the administration's actions in helping America's cities have been most underwhelming.

The problem of decay in the physical and psychic infrastructure of American cities isn't a "black" problem; it's an American problem. But the country's first president of African descent may have more "street cred" than most to tackle these problems head-on without being overly concerned with oppressive notions of political correctness.

So, while we in no way begrudge the first lady's good will trip to Africa, we would simply suggest there is much work to be done at home.

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