The National Rifle Association gave a disgusting performance the other day with its ad that used President Obama’s daughters to make its point in favor of putting armed guards in schools.
In case you haven’t seen it, the NRA accuses Obama of being a hypocrite for allowing armed guards for his daughters at their school but opposing them in schools nationwide:
Not only is it abhorrent to unnecessarily bring these innocent children into the debate, it doesn’t make any sense.
I think it may be a good idea to put armed guards in schools. With the proliferation of violent video games that inure children to violence, these attacks are going to get more frequent.
But the arguments against putting armed guards in schools have to do with whether it makes things more dangerous to put a gun in a school than not to, and whether the policy is affordable.
Sasha and Malia are protected by trained Secret Service agents because they in particular are potential targets, whereas the chances of anything happening at any one school somewhere in the nation are extremely low.
That said, the Obamas themselves have invited this kind of irresponsible focus on their kids by constantly highlighting them for political purposes. Obama refers to them in remarks, they appear in official White House photos, and a picture of the family was even used during the campaign to promote the president and raise money.
This is because the White House knows that a source of Obama’s political strength is his likability as a dad. The White House made a cold and irresponsible decision to use the Obama children.
The Clintons and the Bushes made it clear that their kids were off limits, and they didn’t talk about them or use them for political ends. And I don’t remember their children incurring any of the kinds of nonsense perpetrated by the NRA.
Hopefully, with the election past them, the Obamas will keep their children off the stage.
How desperate can the Obama campaign get to raise cash?
Wednesday, Michelle Obama sent out an email to supporters urging them to “sign” a card wishing President Obama a happy Father’s Day.
From coaching basketball to knowing how many Jonas brothers there are, Barack is a pretty cool dad.
But more importantly, Barack is a wonderful father and partner. No matter what’s on his plate, he puts the kids first, and they know how much he loves them.
You signed Barack’s birthday card last summer, and I know it meant a lot to him. This Father’s Day, I want Barack to know how much we love and appreciate him, so I hope you’ll join me in wishing him a happy Father’s Day.
Click on the link in the email, and you are taken to a landing page featuring this beautiful picture of Obama with his family.
Sign the card by filling you name in some adjoining fields, and guess what? You are transported immediately to a separate page thanking you and asking for some cash.
It’s the Obamas choice to use photos of their daughters and their role in their father’s life to raise money. It’s a very different approach than that of the Bushes and the Clintons, who studiously kept their children out of the spotlight.
I think it’s a bad idea, but I’m not their parents. And I also think the Obamas should not be surprised when their daughters’ presence in the spotlight leads to coverage of them by news organizations, such as the stories about Malia’s spring break trip to Mexico, to which the White House vehemently objected.
I’m not saying news organizations should cover the children. I am saying though, that once people, including children, are made into public figures, the public will be interested, and coverage will follow.
I don’t like writing pieces about the Obamas’ daughters. I wish the Obamas would keep them out of the spotlight. But they don’t. And so when articles about them start disappearing from the Internet, I’d be remiss not to say something, as many of you have urged me to do.
As is well known now, several news outlets initially reported that Malia Obama was spending spring break in Mexico. And then the articles just disappeared without a trace. The White House, it turned out, informed these publications that Malia’s security could be jeopardized and demanded that they be removed.
Normally, I support efforts to minimize reporting on a president’s children, especially when there are security issues involved.
But the Obamas have two problems here.
First, they chose to send her to a narco-state for vacation. I’m sure she’ll be fine, and that they have not put her in jeopardy. But this is in part because she will be surrounded by a minor military operation.
Agence France-Presse reported that some 25 Secret Service agents have accompanied Malia and her friends on the trip.
I don’t know if this is accurate, though AFP is highly reputable. But it is safe to say that the U.S. Secret Service was probably forced to undertake a large scale security operation involving many agents so Malia could spend a few days in Mexico.
Americans have a right to know – at least after the fact – that such resources, paid for by them, are being brought to bear for an optional trip. Malia could have gone to Fort Lauderdale like everyone else.
The other problem for the Obamas is that they have made their daughters public figures. They are photographed everywhere with their parents, most recently last Sunday walking across Lafayette Park in front of the White House to church. They appear in official White House photos, and are referred to publicly by their parents.
I believe the main reason they expose the kids to the spotlight is that they are close to them and just see them as extensions of themselves.
But it also helps Obama politically, showing him with a loving, attractive family.
The Washington Postreported last month that the president’s reelection campaign is already using the children and may continue to do so.
A new Internet ad by the president’s reelection campaign features a portrait of the first family asking supporters to “help the Obamas stand up for working Americans.” The appeal, a departure from the typical Obama messaging, provides an early glimpse of the role the president’s wife and daughters are likely to play in his campaign.
In the months to come, political strategists expect to see the first family used as a political asset.
“The value of the family is enormous,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “The more you know this family and the more you think of Barack Obama in these terms, the harder it is to vilify him.”
There’s a price for this. Their privacy is sacrificed.
I’m sure the Clintons and the Bushes were equally close to their kids, and equally tempted to make use of them politically. However, I’ve covered the White House since 1997, and I can count on one hand for each administration the number of times I actually saw the children. And I was physically at the White House nearly every day.
This determination to guard their privacy was so well known, that I’m willing to wager that the AFP reporter who first found out about Malia’s trip would have checked with the Bush or Clinton White House before writing anything were it one of their children.
The White House cannot expect that news organizations will obey dictates to only photograph the children when they are put on display by the Obamas. If they were rarely seen, they could expect compliance with their wishes. But not when they are so ubiquitous, and when they so clearly add to the president’s appeal.
If the Obamas want to make their children’s lives private, more power to them. I support it. But then they should do what their predecessors did, and remove them from the public stage.
The White House today offered Politico a statement on why it has pressured news organizations to withdraw their stories about Malia Obama’s vacation to Mexico.
Michelle’s Communications Director, Kristina Schake, confirmed that the White House has been scrubbing the stories.
From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.
Ironically, suppressing the stories has probably only added to the attention to the trip, since the media is now avidly focusing on the White House’s actions.
UPDATE: Santorum today waded into the Malia Mexico issue, saying with Malia’s trip, President Obama is suggesting to Americans it’s safe to travel to Mexico, when it’s not.
Thought you might want to see this Saturday Night Live spoof. The Obamas do The Cosbys. I liked the opening sequence.
Interesting that they decided to include Sasha and Malia and risk some kind of White House approbation. But the Obamas have repeatedly put their children before the public, in a way that neither the Bushes nor the Clintons did their children. It benefits the Obamas politically to demonstrate that they have a wonderful family.
So the Obamas can expect the kids to show up in things like this and shouldn’t complain when they do.
The motorcade exited the White House this morning and is not holding at Sidwell Friends School, where Sasha and Malia are in attendance. The Obamas are attending some kind of event. More details coming.