President Obama – like President’s Bush and Clinton before him, has daughters who are still kids – and like the two preceding Presidents, he’s asked the media (including, I suppose, the blogosphere) to leave them out of the political debate, to give them a bit of personal privacy. This, by the way, was something that the media more-or-less eagerly honored during the Clinton Administration, and gleefully ignored during the Bush 43 Administration – and don’t even get me started about how the media trashed Sarah Palin’s kids, even her newborn son (they even questioned his parenthood and critiqued his Down Syndrome). But that breech during Bush 43 – and the mega-breech of decency impacting Sarah Palin – is not justification, in my opinion, for dragging Obama’s two daughters, Sasha and Malia, into the limelight.
But there might be a justification, one that may surprise you, for bringing those two girls out of the protective shadow of privacy and into the harsh light of media scrutiny. More on that in a moment.
As a father and grandfather myself, I can certainly understand the President’s stated desire to keep his kids out of the public eye, to allow them, to the greatest degree possible, to grow up outside the harsh glare of the public limelight.
And as a father and grandfather, I can understand the White House’s mad scramble to squelch a news story about one of his daughters vacationing – taking spring break – in a Mexican resort … of course, his efforts were limited to the US – the Mexican media (and, presumably, any Mexican bad-guys who might have sought to do something to take advantage of their proximity) already knew all about Sasha’s six-figure spring break vacation. That spring break get-away cost Americans somewhere around a half-million dollars (she took a dozen or so friends with her, along with a battalion of security forces).
Still, that coverage of her presence in Mexico didn’t intrude on Sasha’s personal life. It merely reported on her taxpayer-funded travel out of the country, with a huge entourage … odd when you realize that she could go to Camp David for free. But I guess a 13-year old needs to party down in the Mexican Riviera. Hey, didn’t you hit the beaches in Mexico when you were 13? Sure, we all did …
Still, as I said, while the coverage broke the news that she was there, it didn’t intrude into her private life or her deeply personal thoughts on major issues of the day. But someone else has just done that.
In fact, on Wednesday night 0f this week, ABC TV broke this ban on including the Obama girls into hot-button news stories … they totally trashed this voluntary media ban on keeping the girls out of the public eye. They put the girls front-and-center in the middle of a contentious, emotion-laden prime time news story. They blew the girls’ cover right off.
But who at ABC did that? It wasn’t a reporter. It wasn’t a producer. It wasn’t a host. Just who was the perpetrator of this offensive and unacceptable violation of their privacy?
Barack Hussain Obama. Their father. The President.
In a candid, no-holds-barred interview (which couldn’t have been a bigger puff piece of it had been orchestrated by Fleishman-Hillard, the world’s largest PR agency – and a former boss of mine).
Here’s what the President said on ABC last night: “You know, Malia and Sasha, they’ve got friends whose parents are same-sex couples. And I — you know, there have been times where Michelle and I have been sittin’ around the dinner table. And we’ve been talkin’ and — about their friends and their parents.
“And Malia and Sasha would– it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them. And — and frankly — that’s the kind of thing that prompts — a change of perspective. You know, not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated — differently, when it comes to — the eyes of the law.”
So, in this official ABC transcript (which includes the ridiculous “sittin'” and “talkin'”), the President himself drags his two daughters into the political limelight – using them to help justify his dramatic flip-flop (though he calls that dramatic 180-degree change in views “evolution”) on the issue of Gay Marriage.
This insertion of his daughters into a controversial political issue couldn’t be any more volatile, except, perhaps for his inclusion of them in the abortion debate, which I wrote about here and here in American Thinker back in the spring of 2008.
At that time, Obama said on camera (but on a Saturday, and the media nearly missed it until I blew the whistle on his strategy in American Thinker, and later on Neil Cavuto’s program), “Look, I got two daughters, nine years old and six years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want to punish them with a baby.”
So even before he was President, Obama was inserting his two daughters into the most controversial political issues imaginable – abortion (including their own hypothetical future abortions) and gay marriage. In the more recent issue, he not only inserted them, but he talked about their own personal views on the issue – even suggesting that their views drove his decision to flip-flop on the issue. If that’s true, we’re being governed by the whims of a 13 year old and a 10 year old who go to elite private schools, live in an armed fortress, are constantly surrounded by guards, and certainly have an objective view of the world at large.
We should also, I guess – as John Denver sang in Rhymes and Reasons – “seek the wisdom of the children” … and govern our nation by that wisdom.
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind
For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day
Like the music of the mountains
And the colors of the rainbow
They’re a promise of the future
And a blessing for today
They were great lyrics back when flower children ruled San Francisco and Woodstock set America’s fashion sensibility, but I hope we’ve learned in the last 40-some years that children are better seen and not heard than consulted for their flower-like wisdom.
So, the question becomes, are Sasha and Malia fair game? Or should we – respectful journalists ourselves – honor a request, to leave them their privacy as they grow up – even as their father not only ignores their privacy, but blatantly destroys it as he drags them into some of the most contentious political issues facing America today?
Fair’s fair, Mr. President. Or as Mr. Spock so wisely noted in Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, “Sauce for the goose, Mr. Savik.” If it’s good enough for you, Mr. President, perhaps it’s time for it to be good enough for us.
Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative
Ned Barnett has worked in campaigns, and as a speechwriter to candidates and elected officials, since he was the “mascot” to the local Young Republicans in 1964 (Goldwater) – he has managed media and strategy for three state-level Presidential campaigns, and worked hand-in-glove with the legendary Lee Atwater in South Carolina in the Ford Campaign. In 2009-10, as an active Tea Party supporter, he served as both the Clark County/Las Vegas and Nevada Republican Party Communications Director. He owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas, and provides a full range of PR, marketing, issues-management and fund-raising services for clients in Las Vegas, around the country, and in several other countries. He can be reached at 702-561-1167 or firstname.lastname@example.org …
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