No surprise at GOP hissy fit over Obama daughters

The communications director for Rep. Stephen Fincher (R, as if you needed to ask, Tenn.) is resigning after a dust-up over some mean-spirited things she posted on social media about Malia and Sasha Obama.

The day before Thanksgiving, both first daughters accompanied their father for the annual ritual of pardoning two turkeys before Thanksgiving. Acting as normal teen-agers, they rolled their eyes at some of their dad’s corny jokes. Sorry, President Obama, being commander in chief doesn’t always cut it for the offspring. Heck, my daughters are in their 20s, and they still roll their eyes at me sometimes.

Many of us watching the cute clip of turkey-pardoning were a little startled to see how much 13-year-old Sasha has shot up recently, nearly matching her sister in height. Now both of them are nearly as tall as their parents. Who are tall to begin with. If Sasha’s skirt was a little short, no doubt that’s why.

Of course, that wasn’t good enough for Elizabeth Lauten, the soon to be ex-director of communications for Fincher. Here are some of the things she posted on Facebook, which barely reach the middle-school level of intellect:

“Your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department. … Rise to the occasion. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar.”

Later, Lauten gave a non-apology apology. She claimed she “prayed about it,” but never said the words “I’m sorry” to the Obama family.

For the record, Ms. Lauten, Barack and Michelle Obama seem to be exemplary parents in a very difficult setting. They make sure they share most meals with their kids. They have kept their daughters out of the public eye for the most part. From all reports, the girls have limited screen time, they make their own beds in the White House, they didn’t get cell phones or Facebook pages right away. So to use the cheap line that “your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much” just shows how infantile this complaint is.

So Lauten is out as Fincher’s communications director. Perhaps she resigned or was “asked to resign”; perhaps she was fired. Either way, she’ll probably get a high-paying gig on Fox.

There has been a tradition to leave presidential offspring alone, especially when they’re children. Democrats respect that tradition. Republicans, in one more example of thinking the rules shouldn’t apply to them, do not.

John McCain (R, Ariz.), once again earning his name as Senator McNasty, famously told a tasteless joke about Chelsea Clinton in a prepared remark to a public audience, saying she was “so ugly, because her father was Janet Reno.” Ha, ha, Sen. McCain. Just one more reason you lost in 2008.

Radio gasbag Rush Limbaugh made fun of both Amy Carter’s and Chelsea Clinton’s looks. He compared Chelsea Clinton to a dog.

Chelsea Clinton had a comback of her own for Limbaugh: “I’m a believer in a thick skin as a survival tactic … I have the [dubious] honor of being compared to a dog as a 13-year-old by Rush Limbaugh. That was not about me, that was about him.”

Indeed. On right-wing websites, I’ve seen posts calling Malia Obama a “street whore” when she wore shorts. In GOP land, First lady Michelle Obama is constantly criticized for her looks, for the size of her derriere, for her fashion choices. Limbaugh calls her “Moo-chelle.” Seems to me that someone of his size shouldn’t be calling attention to weight.

The Bush twins got into their fair share of highjinks. They were arrested for underage drinking and using false IDs. They were both over 18, and it was reported by media and became a punchline for comedians. But you didn’t hear Democratic politicians and their staffs saying things publicly about it. Anything about the Obamas, however, seems to be fair game.

An episode of the TV show The West Wing shows the differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to basic human kindness. A novice GOP adviser outmatches White House Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn on a political talk show. President Bartlett is impressed by the young Ainsley Hayes and wants to hire her for the White House. Her GOP friends trash the idea, saying things like, “I hate these people” and “Did you meet anyone there who isn’t worthless?”

Ainsley Hayes is set to turn down the job offer until she sees how the entire staff reacts to a crisis, coming together in a caring way, asking about survivors after a coup attempt in Africa. She changes her mind and accepts the job. (And I really wish I could include the clip!)

Ainsley: “I said don’t say that. Say they’re smug and superior. Say their approach to public policy makes you want to tear your hair out. Say they like high taxes and spending your money. Say they want to take your guns and open your borders, but don’t call them worthless. At least don’t do it in front of me. The people that I have met have been extraordinarily qualified, their intent is good. Their commitment is true, they are righteous, and they are patriots. And I’m their lawyer.”

I’m curious about the official Obama White House response to the Lauten Affair. No doubt it will be “no comment.” But I wonder if President Obama wouldn’t really want to say something like this.

In 1950, Margaret Truman — already an adult, by the way — got a bad review for a singing performance in the Washington Post. Her father, President Harry Truman, wrote a short letter to the critic. It included the line: “Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens, you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!”

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