Obama Thinks Twice About His Daughters And Press

Barack Obama's daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, appeared with their parents in an interview on Access Hollywood on July 4. Almost immediately, Obama said he would avoid putting his daughters in the public eye again. "I don't think it's healthy," he said.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

We've been treated this week to a few glimpses of Barack Obama's daughters, 10-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha. The girls and their parents were interviewed over the 4th of July holiday by Maria Menounos of "Access Hollywood." Almost immediately, the Obama's backed away from doing that again. I don't think it's healthy. We'll be avoiding it in the future, Mr. Obama said on "Good Morning, America."

If Mr. Obama thinks the interview, charming though it was, was a mistake, he's probably right. Most presidential candidates and almost all presidents try to keep their children out of the public eye. If you think back to the public moments of White House children, you can see why it matters. Most of the publicity must have been very uncomfortable. Too much attention paid to schools, their hair, their clothes, even their wedding dresses.

Presidential candidate John McCain, whose children are much older, now has a daughter recently out of college who is traveling with his campaign, blogging all the way, but then he rarely mentions his soldier sons. And if McCain is elected, most of his children will probably live their own lives and just visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

If Barack Obama is elected, it will be the first time in a long time that little kids have lived in the White House. John Kennedy's children were even younger. They were famously photographed hiding under their father's desk. But the Kennedys were mostly able to control that kind of attention. It's not easy to do that in these blogging webcasting YouTube days.

Recent White House families have probably set a very good example of the benefits of keeping the lives of political daughters private. The Bush daughters, apart from a couple of teenage moments, stayed out of the public eye until they were grown. And even then, daughter Jenna turned down a big White House wedding, sweetly saying she wanted something simple and private. Chelsea Clinton campaigning for her mother made impressive speeches before big audiences filled with people who listened, realizing that they had known her all her life but never heard her talk. That seems to be the way to go.

(Soundbite of "S.O.S" by The Jonas Brothers)

THE JONAS BROTHERS: (Singing) Ooh! This is an S.O.S. Don't want a second guess, This is the bottom line It's true! I gave my all for you, now my heart's in two And I can't find the other half It's like I'm walking on broken glass, better believe I bled It's a call I'll never get

So this is where the story ends A conversation on IM Well I'm done with Texting, Sorry for the miscommunication

Ooh! This is an S.O.S...

WERTHEIMER: For the Obama girls, the Jonas Brothers. This is NPR News.

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