LEAVE THE VEGETABLES ALONE…. One of the sadder political articles of the weekend ran in the L.A. Times, covering the right’s anger over Michelle Obama’s desire to combat childhood obesity.

Former First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush worked to end illiteracy. Nancy Reagan famously took on teenage drug use. Lady Bird Johnson planted flowers. But none of them have been seared for something as seemingly benign as calling for kids to eat more vegetables, as Michelle Obama has.

Just about everyone will agree that the nation’s children are getting fatter and that obesity is a serious health problem. But the first lady’s push for healthier meals and more exercise, which marked its first anniversary this month, has provoked a backlash from the right, who complain that the only thing here that’s supersized is Big Brother.

The piece included all kinds of attacks against the First Lady, from the likes of Limbaugh, Bachmann, Romney, and Palin, among others.

Myra Gutin, an expert on first ladies and politics at Rider University in New Jersey, said, “Some of the criticism [of Obama], quite frankly, has really shocked me,” Gutin said. “There is a certain line with first ladies. You can take a shot, but I don’t think people like it a lot. We’re not talking about the war; we’re not talking about the economy. At some level it begins to sound peevish and almost inappropriate.”

You think?

Kevin Drum’s response to this rang true:

So that’s where we are. A first lady campaigning against obesity and in favor of breast feeding is now the target of all-out war from the right. I imagine that if she were taking on illiteracy, teenage drug use, or planting flowers, the Republican Party would suddenly find itself opposed to reading, defending Mexican drug cartels, and in favor of vacant lots. And yet we’re supposed to take these people seriously.

Yeah, I don’t understand it, either.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.