Saturday, November 22, 2008

Barack Obama as parent: Obsession with the Obama girls and a family's personal transition

We've just learned that the Obama girls, Malia (10) and Sasha (7), will attend Sidwell Friends School when they move to Washington, DC, and take up residence in the White House in the coming weeks. Read the story here. This news came after what I found to be a nauseating amount of news attention to the fact that all of the prestigious DC schools were courting the Obama girls. See Rachel Swarns story from the NYT Style pages here. Indeed, interest in Michelle, the girls, and -- of course--the rock star himself, seems to be reaching a fever pitch, which is understandable, I suppose.

I feel sorry for their loss of privacy as they make this transition and we know that their lives will never again be the same. A recent NYT story by Peter Baker takes up this topic:
Life for the newly chosen president and his family has changed forever. Even the constraints and security of the campaign trail do not compare to the bubble that has enveloped him in the 10 days since his election. Renegade, as the Secret Service calls him, now lives within the strict limits that come with the most powerful office on the planet.
A photo accompanying the story shows the Obama girls getting out of an SUV, backpacks in hand, under the watchful eye of the Secret Service. President-Elect Obama is not pictured, but the caption suggests he is in the SUV and involved in dropping the girls off for school.

You can read another report on the Obama family's transition, by Jodi Kantor, here.

Sasha and Malia are the youngest children since John and Caroline Kennedy to have been raised in the White House. Chelsea Clinton, who also attended Sidwell Friends, was a young teen when Bill Clinton became President in 1992. So, it will be interesting to see how Mr. Obama is depicted as father in the coming weeks and months. I recall one voter during the primary season suggesting that, with young children at home, this was not the time for Obama to be seeking the Presidency. Indeed, with the economy falling apart at home (and abroad!) and two wars ongoing, the man is going to be seriously challenged to find time to stay involved with his children.

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