Michelle Obama's $495 Gardening Boots Irk Me


jenny erikson
Jenny Erikson
In a post I wrote regarding Michelle Obama and her plans to parent our children for us, I remarked about her $495 Tory Burch gardening boots. A few of the comments wondered why I brought them up, and why, as a capitalist, would I have a problem with pricey shoes?

The boots were mentioned to remind readers of how out of touch with reality the First Lady is. The average American mama doesn’t have a single pair of shoes in her closet that cost that much, let alone gardening boots. When I’m inclined to work outdoors, I put on a pair of three-year-old sneakers that are practically falling apart.

Referring to the self-appointed mom-in-chief’s aloofness when it comes to relating to us regular moms was useful to drive home the point that she is not qualified to make our parenting decisions for us. Only the best for the Obamas, whether it’s boots, school, vacation, vacation, vacation, or vacation. The rest of us can eat cake. Or carrot sticks.

These are hardly people I want making decisions for me.

How I can be a capitalist and also be peeved at the first family for spending money? After all, aren’t I supposed to love it when money is injected into the economy by a purchaser’s free will to buy and a seller’s free will to provide goods and services? I do like that. What I don’t like is extravagant personal purchases being made by someone who subscribes to a philosophy of economic justice and wealth redistribution.

It’s highly hypocritical of Mrs. Obama to buy niceties for herself while her husband insists that I part with more and more of my hard-earned dollars to pay other people’s medical bills. My gas bills are going up because Obama won’t allow any drilling. I’m paying $2 or more for a head of lettuce because Obama won’t put pressure on California officials to put people ahead of fish.

Due to Barack and Michelle Obama’s policies, I can’t afford to buy fancy boots, yet she has the audacity to do it herself and rub my nose in it by gardening in them. If she and her husband were helping create an economic climate in which I could keep more of my money and buy my own boots, I wouldn’t care. To each their own. But she and her husband are denying me that opportunity. 

That’s why I have a problem with Michelle Obama’s fancy-schmancy boots, and why I thought they were worth a mention. Thanks for asking.


barack obama, corporations, economy, in the news, media, politics, taxes


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starr... starrsitter

I think the problem some people had was that while you jump all over what you see as some great injustice perpetrated by the Obamas you seldom call out the hypocrisy of conservatives, which is pretty staggering lately.

Bill Kimmell

Well stated. What's the old "people who live in glass houses ... "?

imlena imlena

I'm sure if Palin was sporting the same boots and a liberal blogger criticized them, you would jump all over that claiming socialism or some stupid thing...at least be consistent Jenny.

nonmember avatar Anon

Yeah, Obama once said something to the effect of: "At some point, you have enough money." That may be true, but so what?? It has nothing to do with his job. But even if it did - what he really means is "at some point, Republicans have enough money" or "business owners have enough money." At some point, doesn't he/Michelle have enough money?? The amount he gives to charity compared to his wealth (as reported before his election) is embarrassingly piddly. Less than the cost of his wife's fancy boots, in fact. Yet, there's a point where "I" have enough money in his opinion? Hence my taxes need to go up. Yeah, that's upsetting.

nonmember avatar bg

what "irks" me is that if it were Sarah Palin or any other conservative woman wearing those boots, you would say she was well within her rights to purchase the expensive boots because she can afford them.

starr... starrsitter

"Today, the President released his 2009 federal income and gift tax returns. He and the First Lady filed their income tax return jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $ 5,505,409. The vast majority of the family’s 2009 income is the proceeds from the sale of the President’s books.The Obamas paid $1,792,414 in federal income tax. The President and First Lady also reported donating $329,100 to 40 different charities. The largest reported gifts to charity were $50,000 contributions to CARE and the United Negro College Fund. In addition, the President donated his $1.4 million Nobel Prize funds to 10 charities. The President and First Lady also released their Illinois income tax return and reported paying $163,303 in state income taxes."

You can view their 2009 tax returns here:


Whether or not you like them or hate them, the fact is that their federal taxes alone were nearly 33% of their income, so let's not pretend that they don't contribute somehow.  Also, unless her boots were, by my count, somewhere in the $1.7 million range, your assertions about their charitable donations is also iff by a wee bit.

nonmember avatar Anon

Starrsitter, I said as reported before his election - you might recall he was elected in 2008. Even in the numbers you provide, less than 9% of his $3.8M income (excluding the ridiculous Nobel Prize) went to charity. Even now he gives far less than I do in charity as a percentage of disposable income. And I'm a single mom. Yet he tried his darnedest to increase my taxes because "at some point you have enough money." It's none of his business what I do with my money. When he and his wife both agree with that, I will not care how much she spends on gardening boots (and vacations, her kids' education, etc.).

nonmember avatar janice

This is so ridiculous. Michelle Obama worked hard and is a successful woman who had a powerful career for which she earned a lot of money. That's why she can afford those boots and she has every right to wear them. The fact that you haven't worked as long or hard as she has and have to wear ratty sneakers is your fault right? After all America is the place where you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps - or at least that's what Ronald Reagan always said. You're just not working hard enough. Wearing the boots doesn't show the First Lady is "out of touch" with anyone. She grew up poor - if anything she knows exactly what it's like. People can still reap the rewards of their own success AND help others while they're at it. What she's doing isn't the least bit hypocritical. From a capitalist perspective, it's inspirational - you too can work hard and rise up. Basically this reeks of jealousy and laziness. You're placing the blame on someone else for the money you don't have because you haven't worked hard enough. And if this isn't a partisan post, then where pray tell, is the bit on Sarah Palin's designer Japanese glasses that we look at every time we see her? Why isn't she wearing a $19.99 pair from Sears. It's one thing to have a smart opinion that makes sense, it's quite another to vary your opinion when the facts are the same, but the party affiliation is different.

Maura Higginson

Way to go Starsitter! When you make big bucks you can afford expensive clothes, trips, gardening boots, etc. whether you are Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Oprah, or Mariah Carrie. (Oprah and her out of touch with the real people irks me a hell of a lot more than Michelle or Sarahs!) Face it- you have to be rich to afford to be in politics in the first place!

And Jenny-I  cannot validate your comments about motherhood when obviously you care more about yourself and your needs today then what will happen to the planet of your children, grandchildren etc in the future if we destroy it now to make life a bit easier!  

hotic... hoticedcoffee

Honestly, what she wears to a garden photo-op is the least of my concerns about her, though it does continue to demonstrate either how out-of-touch she is, or how stupid (about half of us, evidently) are - most women I know would sooner go barefoot in the garden than trudge though one in $500 shoes.

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