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13-year-old Malia goes to Mexico -- What's wrong with this picture?!


I've been slightly fascinated by the story/non-story of Malia Obama, the president's eldest daughter, reportedly traveling in Mexico with her friends and some Secret Service agents for Spring Break.  I'll be honest -- when I first heard the story, my first thought was: Who on earth would send their 13-year-old kid away on Spring Break?  Granted, she's not going to Cancun, but still...  she's 13!  This is besides the fact that the State Department has warned all of us that traveling to Mexico could involve "homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery."

Then I was even more fascinated by the fact that news outlets everywhere were bowing to the Obamas' request that their daughters not be photographed and/or written about.  That's fair -- I personally believe that the president's children should be off limits in politics and news coverage.  However, I do have a problem with it when the president insists the media should not report on the fact that he and his wife sent their teenage daughter to Mexico for Spring Break, while simultaneously boasting to the Associated Press about how their daughters make good campaign props.

On numerous occasions, President Obama has made his daughters part of the story all the while demanding reporters not write about them:

He has cited Sasha and Malia, now 10 and 13, in discussing everything from the rescue of an American aid worker from Somalian pirates to the touchy subject of public access to emergency contraception. His daughters also are prominent in a family photo being used by his reelection campaign. ...

Invoking his daughters is a way for Obama to bring big issues down to human scale, in a disarming way. It also is a reminder to Americans of the president's photogenic family, a priceless political asset in an election year. ...

Michelle Obama frequently brings up her daughters while talking about her campaign against childhood obesity. She often tells about how the girls were starting to get off track before the family's pediatrician gave her a wake-up call.

For obvious safety reasons, I don't think the press should report on Malia Obama's trek to Mexico, but I don't think that means questions shouldn't be asked about the president's decision to send his daughter down there and the White House's management of the media to aide their message.

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