Thankfully, it’s no secret that Barack Obama is a good father. More than other presidents in my recent memory, Obama — though never adopting the title “dad in chief” as his wife, Michelle, did with “mom in chief” — has become the poster child for working dads the world over. The proof, of course, is in the national captivation with first daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, two budding young women the country is almost as glad to have around for another four years as they are to have the girls’ dad.
“The night belonged to their father, but when Malia and Sasha stepped onto the stage in Grant Park election night, it was hard not to marvel at how much they had matured,” said NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker in a segment that aired the night before the inauguration.
On Monday the crowds that packed onto the National Mall to witness history spared no applause for Malia and Sasha as they glided down the Capitol steps in purple J. Crew coats. They looked to be the closet thing a democracy can get to princesses. And precocious princesses at that. When Sasha very noticeably yawned during the president’s address, instead of chiding her, the mass of people surrounding me on the mall laughed and shook their heads as if she were one of them — tired, cold and ready to get this show on the road.
In “23 Reasons Sasha and Malia Stole the Inauguration,” BuzzFeed called the first daughters “America’s awesome kid sisters,” and if more than 30,000 Facebook likes on a post are any indication, many agreed. While the entire country was celebrating the peaceful transfer of power in a ceremony rife with America’s version of pomp and circumstance, “the girls” (as fans have taken to calling them) reminded everyone of the fact that the man taking the oath is a father and husband first.
The president has claimed in interviews that as the girls get older, they don’t want to hang out with poor ol’ dad as much. He joked during a press conference, “It’s getting kind of lonely in this big house.” But who can forget that image of both girls snuggled into their dad while watching their mother give her seminal speech at the Democratic National Convention in September?
Those weren’t girls embarrassed by dear ol’ Dad. You could clearly see the happiness that comes with being physically and metaphorically surrounded by love and security on their faces. The girls are good, first and foremost, because their parents are — and more specifically because their father is.