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Obama Girls Off-Limits

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If you're thinking of using the Obama girls to make your point, think again. Sasha and Malia are strictly off-limits.

Obama Family


Ronda Kaysen: Last week, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that advocates for healthy food in school cafeterias found itself in hot water with the White House when it used the Obama girls in an advertising campaign. The posters, which appeared in D.C. subway stations, pictured an 8-year-old girl with a thought bubble that read, "President Obama's daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don't I?"

The answer they got had nothing to do with school lunches and a lot to do with protecting the First Daughters. A day after the posters went up, the organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, got a phone call from White House lawyers.

"They're very nice people. I like them a lot," President Neal Barnard told the Washington Post

"But they called and said: Please take those down, you can't mention the kids and so forth ... They felt that mentioning the president's children was off-limits. They said [they're] not going to allow the use of their daughters as leverage."

Despite the call and a warning that the White House might sue the organization to remove the posters, Barnard's group kept the posters up anyway.

In the eyes of political experts, this isn't a smart move on the Physicians Committee's part.

"The children of the president are always off-limits. Always. No exceptions," Frank Luntz, a Republican political consultant, told the Post. "No ifs, ands or buts. And while it may draw short-term attention to the issue, the White House will hate the organization for it. And I assure you they will be punished. You don't mess with the president's children. It's an unwritten rule."

But Barnard, whose group would like to see vegetarian and vegan lunch options available at public schools, doesn't think the message is coming from Barack and Michelle, he thinks it's a case of nervous handlers wringing their hands.

"I was not about to pull the ads," said Barnard. "They're important, and they're good, and they raise the issue, speaking for kids in America. And I'm not about to have them shut me up because they're nervous."

After all, Michelle has made a point to advocate for healthy food. The soup kitchen for whom she serves food offers locally grown fruits and vegetables, and the Obamas famously planted a "victory garden" this spring. Of course, this is the same Michelle who pitched a fit when Ty toys used her daughters' names for a new line of dolls.

Barnard might be making his point -- and getting some press attention while he does it -- but if he makes enemies of an administration that's sympathetic to his cause, it hardly helps his case. This White House might sign onto his idea and support legislation for healthy school lunches, but if they think he's exploited their kids to help someone else's, that's not going to fly well. When this is all said and done, Barnard might find himself eating his words.

Moms, what do you think: are the Obama girls off-limits, even when the cause is one the family supports?



next: Jon Gosselin is NOT Having a Midlife Crisis!
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leslie August 12, 2009, 1:12 PM

Ok I agree that kids should be off limits. But I do not agree with the hypocrisy of Democrats who targeted Sarah Palins family and the Bush girls relentlessly. Now that Obamas children have been mentioned suddenly children are off limits? Plus, the reason for this ad was not to bash the Obama girls it was to point out that they recieve great nutrious lunches and other children should also recieve decent meals in schools. Its kind of like the health insurance thats being promoted it will be good enough for the masses but not for the wealthy politicians!

dean August 12, 2009, 1:35 PM

Agree with Leslie 100% Why is it ok to bash other politicians children and not the Obama girls? And they really are not being bashed in this ad. So sensitive!

Chandler August 12, 2009, 2:19 PM

Folks, the Obamas NEVER said it was ok to bash the Palin family. In fact, they specificially said just the opposite. Two wrongs do not make a right. Just because some people took things to far with Palin’s family, doesn’t mean that it is ok to do it to the Obama daughters. It is never ok to target children.

Rachel August 12, 2009, 4:03 PM

Chandler, take a look at the ad. Do you see anyone bashing the Obama girls? However, making political cartoons about a baby with downs syndrome was certainly bashing. I don’t remember Obama putting a stop to the abuse of the Palin family. The ad presents a valid point but like any good Obama supporter you’d rather not comment on facts instead just pretend that this administration is being victimized.

Gail Cooke August 12, 2009, 4:13 PM

Why should they be exempt? Their parents knew what they were getting into when they chose to go into the public eye. And I’ve seen articles on where the Obama parents shamelessly exploit their children in the media…thus exposing them to public domain and criticism. Yes, it is poor form to do that to kids…but the parents knew from the start what goes on in the media. You can’t expose your children to the media and then complain about the attention. You can’t have it both ways…so the President can quit his job and protect his children or grin and bear the scrutiny of himself, his wife and his family. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Laura August 12, 2009, 5:11 PM

The girls are not off limits. If the Obama girls were kept out of the spotlight all the time then I would say off limits. However, they use them to there liking so that makes them fair game.

Natalie August 12, 2009, 6:13 PM

I, personally, think the whole concept of the ad itself is ridiculous. The Obama girls go to a $25,000/year school, not public. That school can afford to have vegetarian and vegan lunches. D.C. public schools can’t. They can’t even keep all their schools open. But I don’t see what the problem is with using their image. It’ll get their point across, won’t it?

Chandler August 12, 2009, 7:53 PM

Rachel, no one from the Obama admistration or campaign made cartoons about Sarah Palin’s baby. Clearly that is unacceptable, but direct your anger at the right people…the people who made those cartoons.

During the campaign Obama DID come out and specifically say that Palin’s family should be off limits…but I guess that as someone who doesn’t support him, you would prefer to ignore that. Myself, I stick to moral standards no matter who the subject is.

Obama’s daughters have been out of the spotlight for the vast majority of his Presidency so far. If people take pictures of them on vacation, that is exploitation by the media, not by the family. I guess political bias blinds some people into only having standards when it applies to someone they agree with.

cyndi August 12, 2009, 8:05 PM

You have got to be kidding me! Nothing in that ad even mentions their names or has their pictures. Palin’s young children the same age are attacked in a sexual way and you’re trying to compare the two? I’m totally disgusted by the state-run media’s attacks on anything republican and refuse to watch them anymore.

Chandler August 12, 2009, 9:04 PM

Cyndi, no one is defending the poor treatment of Palin’s children. Everyone seems to agree that was in very poor taste, even Obama himself.

Even though this ad doesn’t mention the names of the girls, it does specifically mention them. There are no other people on this earth that could be considered “President Obama’s Daughters”. Not only is this ad unnecessary because it isn’t the Democrats fault that our schools are underfunded, but the ad doesn’t apply because the girls go to private school .

There is no attack on anything Republican here. I don’t know where you got that from.

Anonymous August 12, 2009, 9:33 PM

I have read the article from the parent of the child who is a vegan and although she might have a valid point on lunch choices for her child it is the nature of the game that the President’s children are going to a school that can provide that choice. Most schools provide a monthly menu which will give parents an opportunity to plan accordingly if their child does not want to eat the meal being served. Although Malia and Sasha’s name and picture was not used it does not take a genius to figure out who is being talked about. Is it going to far, maybe not, but to compare a child going to a public school versus one going to private school is however. You get what you pay for. A child is an innocent bystander and for adults to think that it is fair under any circumstance to bring children into situations that is beyond their control is quite stupid and frankly immature of any adult who does it and says that it is okay.

Tice August 12, 2009, 11:23 PM

I like how the author uses several pictures of Sasha and Malia to make her point…a practice that is off limits. =)

Tice August 12, 2009, 11:25 PM

I like how the author uses several pictures of Sasha and Malia to make her point…a practice that is off limits. =)

Lisa Watson August 13, 2009, 12:39 AM

As a high school student who attends a public school, I don’t think it’s even acceptable to serve children burgers, fries, pizza, Frito pie, with a side of crap.

Can you believe they count ketchup as a “vegetable?” Some students are forced to resort to this food as their parents are unable to afford the well balanced nutrition that they need. A child’s body needs vitamins, minerals, proteins, and healthy fats, not restaurant food day-after-day. Food is the building blocks of a child’s body and mind. We should be given something that’s stimulative and helps our bodies develop properly. If a parent wants to send their child to school with unhealthy fried food, that should be their choice, but it should not forced upon the majority to graze on unhealthy crap.

Chloe August 13, 2009, 12:46 PM

Isn’t Obama the same President who ran on the platform “of redistributing the wealth”? Hmmm, seems to me that should extend to kids in public school as well. Esp. since our tax dollars pay for his salary and the school system. Shouldn’t children who are not wealthy recieve healthy meals. Fact is the Obama administration is hypocritical. They want to keep their wealth and have the rest of us foot the bill. His kids weren’t bashed in this ad, just bringing to light how his family doesn’t practice what they preach!

lmac August 13, 2009, 3:13 PM

It’s an image of this girl of a similar age to the Obama children asking a question I believe many children do ask. These girls get the glorious position of having their clothing choices make national news, and all the positive coverage adoring them (as it should). People are naturally thinking of what their lives are like in comparison to the lives of other children not so blessed as to have a father who is the leader of the free world. They are not ‘off limits’, but this ad is not directed at them. This ad raises the issue in this ‘new’ era when black children are not necessarily underprivileged, and we get the chance to see these issues in this new context. It is an excellent question and it deserves an excellent answer!

Stephanie August 13, 2009, 5:13 PM

Obama did say not to attack the Palin Family if they did not listen to him- why dont you get off your own butts and complain the media houses you selves. Obama is not responsible for what OTHER people do- he has the right to ask the ad people not to exploit his kids the same rights that Palin used for hers. By the way he did not send his kids the public school because they THE Children are recieving threats too- just google the guy Who had a death to obama, Michelle and his stupid kids too. Are you “mothers” that hateful to children

Ramsey August 13, 2009, 5:23 PM

Stephanie- Obama sent his kids to private school in Chicago as well- there goes your reasoning. Did you also call his kids stupid? Way to prove your point. You raging liberals are so smart!

Pamala August 13, 2009, 6:07 PM

I don’t see the ad as bad although it might be a knock on those who can send their children to private school. I mean seriously I chose to send my child to private school which means she’s provided with meals. Public schools sadly are very underfunded and I think it’s important that there be some sort of push for proper funding in general for schools.

I’m not sure though that the ad makes much sense in the long run because like I said it seems to be a bash at those able to send kids to private school.

That being said, I do think the children are off limits and find that when children are attacked that’s just disgusting.

SO Mean August 14, 2009, 8:06 AM

“the hypocrisy of Democrats who targeted Sarah Palins family and the Bush girls relentlessly” It’s not just the democrates who target - poor Chelsea Clinton was relentlessly attacked by Republicans about her looks the entire time Clinton was in office. Unfortunately once you trot the kids out for the campaigning they remanin in focus. It’s not a Dem. or Rep. thing.


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