It is never wise to publicly denigrate someone else’s children – and when the offspring concerned are the daughters of the President of the United States, it might just be career-ending. In an online rant that will go down as one of the more ill-judged attempts at political public relations of recent years, a senior Republican spin doctor made a highly personal attack on the appearance of President Barack Obama’s teenage daughters at a White House event. On Monday, Elizabeth Lauten resigned as spokeswoman for Stephen Fincher, a Republican Congressman from Tennessee. In a Facebook post, Lauten had criticized the Obama girls’ “teenage” attitude. She went on to question the parenting they had received, and finished by accusing Malia Obama, 16, and Sasha, 13, of dressing as if they were heading to a bar. `
In the post, since deleted but widely circulated online, Lauten told the girls to “try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play.” Malia and Sasha stood behind Mr. Obama last week as he issued the annual Thanksgiving turkey “pardon,” saving two birds from the dinner table. Their underwhelmed expressions produced a number of amused comments, with the Gawker website observing that “not even the pomp and ritual of the White House can overcome the most powerful force known to man: teen contempt.” Ms. Lauten, however, took the caustic theme and went much further with it. “I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family – try showing a little class,” she wrote. “At least respect the part you play.” She added: “Then again, 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.” Then she turned to the girls’ clothes, and in particular, it seems, their short skirts. “Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar,” she concluded. The post quickly drew ire on Twitter and elsewhere, with many calling for Ms. Lauten, once a media director for the Republican National Committee, to be fired, even after she deleted it and posted an apology. “After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and rereading my words online, I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were,” Ms. Lauten wrote on Facebook, also widely shared before she made her page private. “I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow [and I assure you I have] from this experience.” She said that she “had judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager.” Jessica Carter, chief of staff for Fincher, said Monday that Lauten resigned. Carter had no additional comment. Star Jones, a television personality, was among those unimpressed. “I’ve seen tacky people… but rarely seen someone as tacky as Elizabeth Lauten for slamming the children of the Potus,” [President of the U.S.], she tweeted. One Twitter user, Maria Lia Calvo, wrote: “You’re always free to disagree w/Potus on policy, but the children are off-limits. Always.” The two girls are the youngest residents of the White House since Chelsea Clinton, who was 12 when her father, Bill, became president in 1993. Ms. Clinton has admitted that growing up in the spotlight was not easy – her appearance was often the target of ridicule, despite her parents’ efforts to shield her from public scrutiny. Michelle Obama told ABC News last year that she did not want her daughters to have a big presence on Facebook. “We try to protect them from too much of the public voice,” she said. Ms. Lauten may wish she had been similarly reticent.
Source: The Telegraph