Monday, January 19, 2009

Letters From My Father

While watching CNN the other morning, I noticed an interesting piece on an internationally published letter from President Barack Obama to his two daughters Sasha and Malia. The entire letter, published on January 14th in Parade magazine, can be found here on the publication's website. In short, Obama expresses his belief in the advantages and responsibilities associated with being an American, outlining his reasons for "[taking] our family on this journey" and proclaiming his deep love and appreciation for both of his children. 

The message is sincere and heartwarming, but I have to question the necessity of publicizing these sentimental affects in one of America's most widely read newspapers. Clearly Obama's letter is addressed more directly to the American people as a whole than simply to 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia. I suppose it makes sense to charm the public with such a touching demonstration of his fatherly capabilities, but at the same time I can't help but remember all of the criticism faced by Sarah Palin as she embarked on her own journey to the White House, family in tow. 

In September, ABC News reported on the many disapproving mothers who bitterly disputed Palin's ability to effectively raise a family while serving as vice president. It seems that in an age when so many women have proven the possibility of balancing work and home life, such disparagement would be less harsh.

In comparison, Obama has faced incredibly little interrogation in regards to his abilities as a father. His hyper-publicized letter is a prime example of the media's delight with the idea of the president as Father of the Year. While I don't at all doubt that Barack Obama is a genuinely good parent, it seems natural to doubt his ability to be at his daughters' side throughout the next four years, as Sarah Palin was seemingly expected to do. Moreover, Palin was only running for the office of vice president, while Obama has been elected to the office of commander-in-chief itself. With an even busier agenda than Palin, Obama's comparatively celebrated parenting makes it clear that there are still some serious double standards at play in presidential politics. 

1 comment:

elmacdon said...

I completely agree with you in that Obama's letter to his girls sounds like it was directed more to the country. Like you said, why else would it be published in such a widely-read newspaper? Also, if Obama really wants his daughters to "grow up in a world with no limits on [their] dreams" (from his letter), then he would not deliberately put them in the eye of the media. If he wants them to be able to do whatever they want (as if they were normal, non-presidential kids), he would not subject them to so much attention (i.e. by publicizing this letter, supposedly specifically to Malia and Sasha).