The New York Times traced the first lady's family tree and found that her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, was a slave who was raped by a white man. This is news why?

The story of Ms. Shields is not a terribly uplifting tale, no, nor is it terribly original, but the paper seems to think it's newsworthy because — well, Mrs. Obama's the President's wife. And we're torn about this peg.

Michelle Obama didn't offer any comment on the findings, because, say aides, it's a personal matter. Of course few things are personal when it comes to the President's family and this story will be getting lots of play over the next day, at least.

On one hand the tale's an important, if not unpleasant, reminder of this nation's ugly, noxious past.

On the other, however, it may only inflame all those anti-Obama racists roaming out there. You know, because that slave blood's tainting the White House, or something, even though none of this has anything to do with the President himself, since his father hailed from Kenya. But reason has never been that camp's strong suit.

But perhaps we're being too cynical about this. Perhaps this story will realign oppositional misgivings and make people realize the error of their discriminatory ways. Would that be too much to ask? Probably...