On the unsavory media coverage of Sasha and Malia Obama

While I’m not going to link them here or provide any of the “juicy” details, I did notice a couple of stories showing up in the political news over the past couple of days dealing with former Presidential daughters Sasha and Malia Obama. They involved instances of their attending some public entertainment events and getting up to some of the foolishness which most kids in their teenage years do from time to time. I would have thought that it should go without saying that this is really not “news” and it’s inappropriate for the media to engage in it. Ira Madison III brings up many of the same points I would have made at The Daily Beast this week.

“Leave the children out of political discourse” is a common refrain whenever the children of politicians are attacked or otherwise maligned in the media. Unsurprisingly, all bets are off when it comes to Malia and Sasha Obama. This weekend, at Chicago’s annual Lollapalooza music festival, Sasha was pictured kissing a young man named Matt Metzler. The picture, of course, has gone wide—along with the misguided notion that the Obamas are bad parents for letting their 16-year-old daughter kiss a boy at a music festival. It’s similar to the right-wing’s persecution of her older sister Malia, where so-called reporters have stalked her at parties to get photos of her drinking and having fun. What it all boils down to is: When are we gonna leave these girls alone?

Unfortunately, the author goes on from there into full left wing screed mode, as if this a phenomenon that only happens in conservative media, and then launches into an exploration about how it may have been harmful for the Obama daughters to have grown up in such a “white space.” (But hey… I did warn you that it was the Daily Beast.) We already know that this problem isn’t exclusive to one side or the other, nor is it just bloggers doing it. For proof positive, you can jump in your handy dandy time machine and go back to look at the ABC News coverage (among many other MSM outlets) boldly running pictures and stories of the Bush daughters having a bit too much to drink back in the day.

But none of that is really the point. The question here is one of simple decency, privacy and a bit of restraint on the part of any writers who aren’t working for actual mud-slinging tabloids. Barack Obama remains a legitimate political figure even in retirement, keeping his hand in our game in any number of ways. To a lesser extent, his wife is also politically active with plenty of controversial opinions (if only on school nutrition… yeesh) so she might be considered fair game also. His children never asked for any of this. They’ve yet to exhibit a bit of interest in entering the political arena. They’re still kids basically and are busy trying to make it through their teenage years and get on with growing up.

These are not stories with any relevance to politics or governance.

I made it a rule to leave Chelsea Clinton completely alone in terms of political commentary until she reached the point as an adult where she decided to go out on the campaign trail for her mother, give speeches and talk policy. At that point she had intentionally placed herself onto the battlefield and became a fair target for criticism. If the Bush daughters take a run at elected office feel free to do the same with them. And some day, probably well into the future, if Sasha and Malia decide to enter our game I’ll be joining in with you and commenting on whatever policies they choose to espouse. But for the moment, they’re kids. They’re out having fun and probably making some stupid mistakes or errors in judgement along the way just as far too many of us did at that age. (My Mother, may she rest in peace, could have told you some stories that would leave me cringing, I assure you.)

Leave the frat party stories to the National Enquirer. The Obama children are not on the field of play.