It’s not often that President Obama’s daughters get a bad rap, but they were certainly targeted over the weekend by GOP Communications Director, Elizabeth Lauten. And it wasn’t long before the cyber world was up in arms about her comments on their uninterested behaviour during the Presidential turkey pardon ceremony (a Thanksgiving tradition).  

I watched the video, and to be honest, I laughed a little bit. These are teenage girls and so, naturally, standing still at a somewhat tedious event and looking thrilled about it might not be making the top of their to-do list. But I don’t know if they merited the following, rather harsh, comments:

“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get your [sic] both in those awful teen years but you’re a part of the First Family. Try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. 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…Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot in a bar.”

The comments were a low blow for a few reasons. For one, they came from a Republican staffer – slightly immature, perhaps? If Lauten had to take a dig, she should have picked on someone her own age – namely, gone straight to the President himself. Secondly, I don’t think it was necessary to use a unifying traditional ceremony to cause dissension between the parties. And three, surely a communications director should think a bit more before posting anything online? (She has since resigned.)

Here’s the bit that people won’t like, though: I kind of agree with her comments. They definitely weren’t said respectfully and Lauten would have been better to let the sentiments go rather than publish them. But she had a point – people do expect more from the daughters of the President. His family is a reflection on him, and they just don’t appear so united when the kids are quite casually dressed (especially next to their dad’s suit and in a formal situation) and are doing a lot of fidgeting.

I don’t think they necessarily deserve a strict reprimand, but I do think they should be aware that their position – as annoying as it would be at times – represents something important. Many people look up to them, and they need to respect that. It’s certainly not easy being famous. 

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.