With Father’s Day approaching this Sunday, the White House has been emphasizing President Barack Obama’s identity as a father. On Pinterest, Michelle Obama has created a “Father’s Day” bulletin board. The First Lady also sent an email to the president’s followers, saying: “From coaching basketball to knowing how many Jonas brothers there are, Barack is a pretty cool dad. But more importantly, Barack is a wonderful father and partner... I hope you'll join me in wishing him a happy Father's Day.”
Being a father means having children, and presidential children have roles beyond PR. It won’t be long until Sasha and Malia come into the public eye. What role have political children played in their unique positions? Here are 3 observations that may hint at future roles for Obama’s daughters:
1. Ironically, Many Political Daughters Are Journalists:
Maybe because their lives are heavily covered by the media or because they enjoy public prominence already, many presidential children pursue careers in media and communications. Jenna Hager, a daughter of George W. Bush, is a correspondent for the Today show on NBC. Meghan McCain is a columnist and blogger for the Daily Beast and a contributor on MSNBC. John Huntsman’s daughter Abby worked as an associate segment producer on Good Morning America and will work for the Huffington Post; the three adult Huntsman daughters also provide snarky political commentary on their Twitter account @Jon2012girls. Chelsea Clinton also had a 3-month stint on NBC. Even two sons, Michael Reagan and Ron Reagan, were radio talk show hosts.
2. First Daughters Outnumber First Sons, But Not By Much:
Since President John F. Kennedy took office, the White House has housed 18 daughters and 14 sons
3. First Daughters Receive More Media Attention:
The White House has seen only daughters since President Bill Clinton, making daughter-dominance only a recent trend. But the media also focus more on these daughters. Political daughters tend to pursue social activism - Chelsea Clinton, in addition to finance, advocates for global health along with Barbara Bush, and others do charity work in fields such as education.
While these careers give these women distinct careers, the public tends to continues to connect them to their fathers because they tend not to have separate political identities. However, political sons, such George W. Bush, tend to pursue public careers of their own and become “politicians” instead of “politicians’ children.” The lesser known sons receive less attention because tend not to stay in the public eye and instead enter the private sphere - Marvin P. Bush is a businessman.
Will 11-year old Sasha and 13-year old Malia grow up to be journalists? Will they pursue social advocacy such as the nation’s obesity crisis, as their mother has done? Or as children of a president who broke the race barrier, will they forge a different path? Malia plays soccer, dances, and acts, Sasha practices gymnastics and tap dance, and both play the piano and tennis. For now, they are budding athletes and artists.