The right’s pointless preoccupation with breastfeeding

THE RIGHT’S POINTLESS PREOCCUPATION WITH BREASTFEEDING…. First Lady Michelle Obama has said breastfeeding helps combat childhood obesity. The Obama administration has also concluded that breast pumps and related supplies are tax-deductible as designated medical supplies, making it easier for families to afford the equipment.

And somehow, because our political discourse can be mind-numbing, these fairly mundane developments have become the subject of great outrage on the right.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) complained about this on Tuesday. So did Tucker Carlson. The cast of “Fox & Friends” is outraged, and so are Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin. Yesterday, Sarah Palin got in on the fun. For the right, the Obamas’ efforts are part of a “Nanny State” run amok. It’s none of Michelle Obama’s business, the argument goes, to talk to families about nutrition and children’s health.

With all of this in mind, Jonathan Cohn flags a fascinating set of remarks delivered not too long ago by the First Lady.

“Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. More than 60 percent of Americans do not get enough physical activity…. The good news, though, is that there are things that each of us can do — as individuals, as family members, as caregivers, as heads of business, and leaders of government — to take better care of ourselves, and the people around us. The federal government is doing its part by educating Americans about preventive measures that can save their own lives….

“HHS has compiled a list of more than 100 small steps that individuals and families can take to reach the four important health goals outlined in the HealthierUS Initiative…. All of the steps are easy adjustments that can add up to a healthier lifestyle — like drinking a glass of water before meals, or taking stairs instead of the escalator or the elevator. One of my favorite trips to be active is, “Walk the dog, don’t just watch the dog walk.” …

“Our government is working to encourage children and teens to make wise choices about their health. … HHS launched the WeCan! Initiative, which promotes better nutrition for children, and educates parents and caregivers about how to get children to spend less time in front of the TV and computer screen, and more time being physically active. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with states and schools to improve physical education, and to provide more nutritious foods for children during the school day.”

The First Lady went on to promote childhood-overweight and -obesity prevention programs, playgrounds, and talking to families about healthy food and physical activity.

The First Lady was Laura Bush speaking to the “National Health and Prevention Summit” in 2007.

I’ve looked for any evidence that Bachmann, Carlson, the cast of “Fox & Friends,” Limbaugh, and/or Malkin found any of Laura Bush’s remarks offensive, but I can’t find any.

For her part, Palin, during her brief tenure in Alaska, used her office to promote “breastfeeding awareness,” which the former half-term governor said is “a means of preventing infant malnutrition, morbidity, and mortality.”