If there’s one thing liberals and conservatives generally have agreed upon with respect to President Obama, it’s that by all indications, he’s a good father to his daughters Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10.
The president appears to have a close and affectionate relationship with his girls. They go biking, out for ice cream and to bookstores whenever they’re on vacation together. He even notably has coached Sasha’s basketball team on Saturday mornings, when the affairs of state permit.
By all accounts, he “takes time to be a dad,” as the federal government’s National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse encourages.
He and his wife, Michelle, also seem to work hard to protect their daughters’ privacy and security, as in last week’s unusual move to take down Internet stories about Malia’s spring break trip to Mexico.
It’s easy to see why the Obamas would be reticent to have their young teen daughter’s activities chronicled, especially when she’s vacationing with friends (and a team of Secret Service agents) in a foreign country that the president’s own State Department has urged American tourists to avoid.
Double standard? Certainly, but that’s a topic for another day.
Some balk at the president’s increasingly frequent use of his daughters for political purposes, such as his recent comment that he hopes his daughters someday are able to be “good citizens” and speak out on controversial issues without being maligned as was Sandra Fluke by Rush Limbaugh over the issue of free contraception.
He also mentions them when doing so makes his political points more personal, or even poignant. Some would call this opportunistic, especially when the girls are “off-limits” to everyone else.
So it’s hard to tell if it was genuine fatherly bonding or political expediency that prompted his most recent comment about his daughters.
After a March 25 meeting with Turkey’s controversial Islamic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Obama talked publicly about his common ground with Mr. Erdogan on parenting daughters.
Speaking of their especially close friendship, Mr. Obama said, “The bottom line is that we find ourselves in frequent agreement upon a wide range of issues … [and] because he has two daughters that are a little older than mine - they’ve turned out very well, so I’m always interested in his perspective on raising girls.”