Monday, August 17, 2009


I know we all want the President of the U.S. to be a role-model in every aspect of life. But in the U.S. it is of particular importance, even a basic value, that our president be a moral leader and a family man, one who demonstrates sensitivity as a husband and father. Barack Obama appears to me thus far a paragon of virtue in these areas.

Nevertheless, according to what I have been reading in the press, the critics are out: why is the family traveling during a recession; why are they taking their daughters sightseeing in Paris when the president is asking Congress to focus on healthcare? And the beat goes on.

Apart from the point that the president claims he is paying for all personal sightseeing out of his own pocketbook, I believe that the first couple has achieved role-model status as parents. According to a recent article in The New York Times, the couple has established an enviable summer program for their two daughters: history lessons (e.g. a visit to a slave port in Ghana — Mrs. Obama is a descendant of slaves); touring the Eiffel Tower, participation in a community service activity; visits to critical sights in Rome and an introduction to Pope Benedict; a Jonas Brothers concert, and many other pleasurable activities. These are parents who have even decreed that computers and TV are inappropriate at certain times.

Recession or not, every family should share its circumstances with others in the family and offer opportunities to the children that will have short- and long-term benefit. If you are president, your child gets to meet the Pope, and rightly so. There are advantages for families with position. Some other family may have equally meaningful activities in Italy but not meet the Pope. And that is the way family life works. The point here is that the image of our president and first lady shaping a program so that their children can have a meaningful summer is one that we all should emulate.

Bill Clinton was rightly criticized for being a family role-model deficit because of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky. Now we have the Obamas creating a standard and an image that no doubt transcends most first families in the world. Rather than criticize, let's nurture that role-model.

Technorati Tags: Barack Obama, recession, The New York Times, Bill Clinton, role-model, michelle obama, first lady , Makovsky + Company, public relations


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