Democratic Convention 2016

No President Should Be 'Shaping' the Lives of Children for Four or Eight Years

Some political figures unsurprisingly think that politicians should be considered role models.


Michelle Obama
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

First Lady Michelle Obama was granted the task last night of making Hillary Clinton seem like a human being other people should aspire to emulate and not a lifelong politician who for some reason is less able to conceal her mercenary maneuvering than her peers.

Part of Obama's speech was about the role of parents and parenting, and in particular, being good role models, suggesting that Clinton is such a person.  The speech was also heavy on the idolization of the politician as substitute parent and very creepily the idea that the president is and should be shaping who your children are:

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as President and First Lady, because we know that our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to children across this country — kids who tell us, "I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school." Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, "Is my hair like yours?"

And make no mistake about it, this November, when we go to the polls, that is what we're deciding — not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives. And I am here tonight because in this election, there is only one person who I trust with that responsibility, only one person who I believe is truly qualified to be President of the United States, and that is our friend, Hillary Clinton.

Who can forget the time Obama half-joked/half-lectured Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas because she ate an Egg McMuffin at McDonald's, even though such a breakfast is healthy enough when you're an extremely active young athlete.

Obama no doubt thinks she's being a "role model" by pushing her healthy food and activity agenda, but there is a lot of evidence out there that the government doesn't know what the heck it's talking about when it lectures Americans on food. Food policy expert Baylen Linnekin frequently notes how terrible the government's analysis is on issues related to nutrition (read his takedown on the Food and Drug Administration's unscientific meddling in the salt content of products here). Obama herself as our nation's nutrition nanny back in 2013 pushed forward the discredited idea that Americans need to be drinking more water to improve health.

Likewise, the government's attitude toward child-rearing, as Reason contributor Lenore Skenazy regularly highlights, is to fill parents with a constant fear that risks to children's safety are much higher than they actually are. When government officials decide that they play a role in shaping the lives of children, it seems to end up wanting to replace the judgment of adults (and also expand government regulation of goods and services).

One doesn't have to believe that Clinton is exactly as amoral and self-serving as Donald Trump (she is, though) in order to be repulsed at the idea that we should be viewing the president or public officials in general as role models. Clinton's ideas for raising children properly have involved attacking pop culture and calling for government-endorsed censorship. No American should be looking to the president to shape children's lives (that's what parents are for), and certainly nobody should be looking for a dreadful scold like Clinton for that sort of guidance.

NEXT: Republicans Have Become the Party of No Ideas—and Democrats Have Become the Party of Bad Ideas

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  1. the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered, “Is my hair like yours?”

    I’ll take “Things That Never Happened” for $100, Alex.

    1. That was my immediate reaction too.

      1. For some insight into what happens when the youth of the great American nation do not take politicians as their role models, see the documentation of the country’s leading criminal “satire” case at:

    2. “Uh, well, it certainly is not, uh, like Michelle’s.”

      1. That boy’s question stumped the president for a good 10 minutes.

      2. We shall overcomb!

    3. Um… there is actually a picture capturing the kid feeling Obama’s hair.

      1. Yeah. It’s pretty well documented. And doesn’t seem particularly unbelievable.

        If you actually encourage your children to take politicians as role models, instead of more positive examples like pro athletes or rock stars or Kardashians, they may be beyond rescue by either you or your village. But it did make a big difference to a lot of young black kids that there we elected a black president. I can acknowledge that while simultaneously acknowledging that he did absolutely nothing to deserve it besides being black, that no adult should give a shit about the fact that he was the first black president, and that 2016 is not 2008 and Hillary does not even offer that benefit to young girls at this point in history.

        1. What are you talking about?

          In the US, achievement is marked by association, pop culture, guilt, populism, and fear – in other words, everything is politics in this shithole.

          Of course it matters that Obama is black and that Hillary is a nasty whore, or that yellen is a troll or that we have tranny CEOs.

          That is what the sheep have been told.

    4. Coming to you at the 2020 convention:

      Bill Clinton: “I remember the little old lady who looked up at my wife, her eyes wide with hope, and he wondered “Are my cankles like yours?”

    5. “The content of their character” can go fuck itself; enlightened people judge each other by the texture of their hair.

  2. Obama is the country’s dad and its boss. That makes Hillary our grandmother and our, fuck, I don’t know, nanny?

    1. The child-gobbling witch who lives deep in the woods in a cottage on rooster feet.

      1. The country forbids you from reading any more SugarFree, young man.

        1. You want me on that wall! You NEED me on that wall!

      2. The child-gobbling witch who lives deep in the woods in a cottage on rooster feet.

        Baba Yaga

        1. If you stare into a mirror at night with only a candle lit and say Hillary’s name three times, you might be Huma Abedin.

    2. “So the toilet seat is like the uncle or something?”

    3. Not nanny.

      More like, sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.…..ic-things/

      1. “Boris” *and* “Johnson”.

        WTF do you expect?

    4. It takes a village Fist. It takes a village.

    5. Granny Goodness.

    1. Hahaha, holy fuck, check out the “Best FLOTUS since Jackie Kennedy” thread. Even when all they do is post GIFs and 5-word responses, these idiots can’t understand each other.

      1. So, better than Hilary? The one they’ve chosen to run for President?

        1. “Oh, you know what we mean!”

      2. Jackie Kennedy kept her mouth shut while her husband was in the Oval Orifice. Which is what every first spouse should do.

        1. “So I am sick of Obama’s wife. Yeah. This isn’t some republican rant either. It’s just the first lady in general. You know. I don’t know what it is. All throughout of my life, which each presidency, like these first ladies. They got more and more like chatty. You know. More and more chiming in. Like leaning into the frame, spitting out there ideas. It’s like why are you talking? Right? You weren’t even elected. Shut-up. Your husband is not running a lemonade stand, here. He is running the country. You just don’t chime in.

          Let me guess. It’s considered sexist. It is? Why? OK. Let me ask you this. Let say you have a leak in your house. OK. You call the plumber up. He shows up, and he goes, “Yeah, the leaks coming from the upstairs bathroom. We got to shut off the valve.” All of a sudden his wife walks in, who isn’t a plumber. And she goes, “Yeah, I think it actually coming from the outside.” What you be like, “With all due respect, shut the fuck up. I need a plumber in this moment.”

          -Bill Burr

        2. Just wait until we have Bill as First Lady….

          1. Think of all the extra women he can rape!

          2. Another co-president.

            In reverse.

  3. I keep my kids away from pols like I keep them away from priests.

    1. Bingo

    2. pols, priests, and police.

  4. But they’re not so horrible as Republicans. Republicans are fascists, and fascists believe in horrible things like worshiping leaders and “everything within….”

    Um, where was I going with this again?

    1. Democrats admire people who have overcome obstacles to become important community activists.

      Republicans mindlessly worship stupid people who have benefited from privilege.

      This is what the left believes.

  5. No President Should Be ‘Shaping’ the Lives of Children for Four or Eight Years

    That was one of the many things I shouted at the TV last night.

    1. Why were you watching the DNC?

      1. I wanted to see the “Fart-In”.

      2. I’m a masochist.

  6. Parenting your kids is something politicians do together

  7. Identity politics is the retardation of America. Marxist conceptions of class-consciousness and broad, ill-defined political categories breaking along wealth strata are pat, self-serving, and incorrect approximations for human societies, but they at least attempt to get beneath the skin-deep analysis of racial tribalism. No, a black president has not and could not raise the expectations of black citizens. Much worse, in fact, since he deliberately stokes racial animus to suit his own ends. Clinton’s presidency does nothing for women, unless the women in question are also life-long political hacks and mendacious opportunists. But it’s a lovely thought to think the candidate who shares your skin-tone or plumbing reflects well on you, isn’t it? As long as you’re not willing to invest a lot of thought into it, anyway.

  8. Who can forget the time Obama half-joked/half-lectured Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas

    Let’s instead say that Obama’s tone was half-joking. He was not joking. The man never misses a chance to set people straight. He probably figured it was better to appear to play it jokingly since Douglas is a young, popular, black Olympian.

    1. She. It was Michelle dispensing I’m sure much needed dietary advice to an Olympian who, by her own admission, had “splurged” on a single McMuffin.

      1. Sorry. I hear “Obama” and think of the lecturer-in-chief, not the Wookiee.

        1. I bet he gets it from her. She snipes and chides and derides him and he takes it out on the country.

    2. I seem to recall a few photos of Obumbles and crew with hamburgers and fries. Yep, I remember that epic condescension.

      I also remember the stories about school lunchroom garbage cans filling up with celery sticks. Meeshell sure did shape some children in America, just not in the way she thought she did.

      1. The Libertarian Moment was called a decades too early.

    3. What’s wrong with a McMuffin anyway? Egg and ham. Healthful goodness.

  9. The government knows its plans and how best our children will fit into those plans. The children need constant guidance lest they start to think themselves up alternate ideas.

    Black Helicopter Parenting 101.

    1. The commentariat is just en fuego lately.

  10. What about two years? Can we at least agree on two years? I’m all about compromise.

  11. Did the Stein interview article implode from derp?

    1. Right? Finally get a first comment and *Yoink*, snatched from me.

  12. So, what’s next for Michelle.

    Follow Hillary’s path and pick up an EZ Senate seat is Deep Blue Illinois? I can’t see her just riding off into the sunset.

    1. At least she’d be doing it in a state she actually lived in. And despite Michelle’s odious Selena Meyer-like “let’s get movin'” campaign, she hasn’t committed any federal crimes yet. So there’s that.

      1. “she hasn’t committed any federal crimes yet.”
        …That we know of.

      2. I wonder if she has as low a regard for fat people as Selena Meyer. Probably.

      3. Her in-your-face spending of 100 million taxpayer dollars on lavish vacations would be enough to disqualify her in a sane world.

          1. Unfortunately, the cost of those vacations is not directly under the President’s control.

            I mean, sure, the president can take a cheap vacation to the Motel 6 in Akron, OH, but even though that vacation would cost the rest of us $1,300, it’s still going to cost the first family, AKA the taxpayer tens or hundreds of thousands. The first family doesn’t fly coach– they fly on AF1, they have to have a secret service detail and other security, so while it may be annoying, that metric is hardly going to change in the future.

            1. Of course, I would suppose traveling between Chicago, Camp David, DC, and a couple of domestic locales would probably be cheaper than galivanting around the world on Air Force One like you won the lottery. But that would require having respect for the taxpayers. They do enough international travel tagging along on daddy’s business trips that they really shouldn’t need extra vacations. Maybe OFA could pitch in and cover some of this stuff.

  13. ‘One doesn’t have to believe that Clinton is exactly as amoral and self-serving as Donald Trump (she is, though)…’
    Yes, Trump’s use of a private email server when he was secretary of state really should have got him jailed.

  14. Hillary as role model: “Look kids, you can ignore laws too!!”

  15. One doesn’t have to believe that Clinton is exactly as amoral and self-serving as Donald Trump (she is, though)

    Almost made it through an article about the Dem convention without slamming Trump. Keep trying, kids!

  16. The quoted parts of the speech dovetail with one of the themes that the Clinton camp is running with in their television ads: that Trump is a big meanie and the kids are watching, and electing him president will turn the kids into schoolyard bullies. Or something. That’s an interesting concern for a presidential election.

    The networks sure did love Michelle’s speech on their news shows this morning. I saw the misty-eyed bit she did on the nomination of a woman for president about 15 times in five minutes.

    1. “Ladies, you too can find an ambitious husband and ride his coattails so you can be successful.”

  17. I was three years old when Bill Clinton took office.

    I’m rather grateful to my parents for not shaping my life into his image.

    1. What’s the difference between Bill Clinton and a screwdriver?

      A screwdriver turns in screws, Bill Clinton screws interns.

    2. You mean didn’t grow up to be a womanizing, pedophile rapist?

  18. The other day my 15 year old daughter told me she knew nothing about politics, and asked if that was a bad thing. I told her she couldn’t vote, and there is nothing she can do to participate in the process, so she’s better off just ignoring everything political and just enjoying her life. We don’t let the kids watch much TV either, so besides a weekly “kids news” periodical they get when they’re in school, they are rarely exposed to any political or government issues. So if they don’t see politicians as role models, I’m totally ok with that.

    1. Man, I wish I knew nothing about politics. That sounds great.

    2. My kids (16 and 21) take after their mother and actively avoid politics also. They just get annoyed when I start yelling at the TV.

      1. That’s because you don’t own a TV.

  19. the idea that we should be viewing the president or public officials in general as role models

    Isn’t this one of the basic differences between Democrat/Republican voters and libertarians that (sorry MLK) we can’t overcome?

    Despite how either party actually governs, Democrats come from an authoritarian maternal world-view that with proper nurturing and understanding all the problems and differences can be solved by reason and compassion while Republicans rally around an authoritarian paternal belief that strength and tradition will defeat whatever obstacles stand in opposition. They both want to follow authoritative, statist leaders who should be revered, emulated, obeyed and, more importantly, want to force others to do the same through law, regulation and codes.

    That’s why so many voters in either party view libertarians as worse than their counterparts in the other party. While either side should roughly agree with about half of libertarian positions, they instead ? astonishingly ? view libertarians as juvenile heretics who aren’t to be taken seriously and are wasting their votes.

    It’s similar to the logic that any religious person will see an atheist as worse than a believer in any other religion because a believer, even if they’ve picked the wrong belief system and thus will wind up in some sort of hell, at least views their place in the universe within a similar mindset. Atheists and libertarians are beyond the pale.

    1. I think so. Both parties seem to think that the country needs a leader and some kind of weird father figure in the president. I find that whole idea disgusting. The president should just be some kind of chief administrator and head the military if and when that is ever necessary. I don’t want a president I can admire or look up to or who has grand visions for the future. I want someone to do the basic executive functions of the office and shut the fuck up.

      1. Exactly. A functioning president should hardly ever be heard. Of course, that would mean that the population would have to be a little smarter than dribbling infant.

    2. Actually, religious people see atheists as worse because most atheists are religious in their unbelief, and much more loud and obnoxious about it.

      1. most atheists are religious in their unbelief

        I remain unconvinced of that. I suspect there is a silent majority of atheists that you just don’t notice.

  20. This is completely wrong on all counts. Of course the president should be a role model. And despite their foibles, the Obamas are that. People support Trump because they know that Trump is a role model – and therefore his election (which won’t happen) will be a mandate for them to act out as bullies just like he has been signaling, and launch new witch hunts and wars. You should be proud of the president of your country, and your children should look up to them. As for first ladies, of course her nutrition campaign is misguided, but they always are, and often extremely harmful such as in the case of Nancy Reagan. Jeb Bush’s wife would have been an ‘addiction as disease’ zealot. At least Michelle’s campaign was relatively harmless. Also Melania’s plagiarism of her values was about the most poignant expression of president-as-role-model one could imagine (yes it was intentional – she is trying to undermine her hubby and we won’t be seeing her again during the campaign).

    1. Those are certainly some words.

      1. Thanks. Though I would change ‘poignant’ -> ‘eloquent’.

    2. “Jeb Bush’s wife would have been an ‘addiction as disease’ zealot.”

      Isn’t that the official position of Michelle Obama’s husband? The “Public Health Approach on Drugs” and all that — which is simply the War on Drugs with a smiley face?

      1. Yes but she’s an abstinence absolutist – see the connections to Adelson/AA. Obama believes in “medical replacement” which is flawed as well, but far better. (Progress not perfection.)

        1. I don’t think so. “Abstinence absolutism” deals with the treatment of those diagnosed with actual addiction issues. The medical replacement/public health approach suggests that any user of any “controlled substance,” including those substances that have no real addictive properties, are suffering from the supposed “medical condition” of “substance abuse” and “require” medical “treatment,” frequently offered as an alternative to prison.

    3. “Of course the president should be a role model. And despite their foibles, the Obamas are that. ”

      If you mean role models for how to grow up to be partisan hacks and congenital liars (if you like your insurance you can keep it, most transparent administration ever, etc.) indeed they are.

      With Hillary you get all of that plus the added bonus of being as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

    4. No way. People should always be suspicious and distrustful of politicians. Good government is an impossible dream. A healthy skepticism and distrust of power and authority will always be necessary.

  21. “And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as President and First Lady…”

    Being First Lady is now a JOB? Seriously? Is there a civil service exam for it?

    1. It’s been a “job” for decades. The precise nature of what it entails varies by administration and what tasks are handled by the wife, but there’s no call for pretending it isn’t.

      As for a “civil service exam”, it’s like the vice president: you knew who was part of the package when you voted.

      1. It is not a job at all. It is a presumption of authority.
        They are just figureheads of puppets who are assigned legitimacy by their doting minions and of course, the retards on the “today show” and that ilk.

      2. “you knew who was part of the package when you voted.”
        By this logic, it’s ok to refuse to vote for someone because you don’t like their spouse, which I’m guessing if someone said about your favorite prog leader, you’d say is an idiotic excuse.

        And where is the line drawn. Friends? Parents? Uncles? People they owe favors? Reverend Jeremiah Wright? By your logic, any person who could be a confidante to the president could disqualify him for office on the basis that they are ‘part of the package.’

        Or, we could take the sensible view that, no, there is a specific duty alloyed to an elected official (and a popular mandate that only truly extends to said official by virtue of the election), and that if the spouse or cousin or babysitter wants to dictate policy, then they should run for office themselves.

  22. No, this election, and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.

    Well, now I’m convinced. Trump it is.

  23. Clinton and Trump are amoral? I think you’d better find a dictionary to see what that word actually means.

    1. And what will we find in the dictionary when we look up ‘amoral’? Will it be like ‘asymmetric’?

      1. I suspect that Free Market is trying to point out the difference between amoral and immoral.

  24. … so is the complaint that Obama said it, or that she was right?

    Because whether you like it or not, she was right. And if you have an issue with that, then that’s really a problem with parents across the country, not with Obama herself.

    1. The First Lady is obviously taking a position on the matter, and can be criticized in her own right.

      Concern troll somewhere else.

    2. No, she was wrong. Politicians should not be looked at as role models any more.

      Frankly I’d rather have a philandering misanthropic douche bag in the white house who understands policy (and of course shares my ever so informed opinions on it) than some really nice, virtuous, moral person who implements horrible policies. Just like I want my firemen to be good firemen and my chefs to be good chefs, and don’t give two shits whether their faithful spouses or attentive parents. The presidency is a job, it’s not the Miss America pageant.

  25. “Is my hair like yours?”
    …What? Was this a special needs child? It went from potentially inspiring to downright weird in just five monosyllabic words. Why quote the kid?

  26. Obama really tries to be a role model.

    That’s why he smokes 2 packs a day.

  27. However, eating a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t mean surviving solely on carrot juice, rabbit food and bird seed. All you have to do is really simple. Eat from a wide variety of food groups in the right quantities to maintain the energy and nutrients a healthy adult needs.

  28. However, eating a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t mean surviving solely on carrot juice, rabbit food and bird seed. All you have to do is really simple. Eat from a wide variety of food groups in the right quantities to maintain the energy and nutrients a healthy adult needs.

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