The Root: Incensed Communication Director for GOP Congressman Verbally Attacks First Daughters


President Barack Obama speaks as his daughters, Sasha and Malia, look on before the president pardoning turkeys “Cheese” and “Mac.” MARK WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

Blame the alcohol in the egg nog, delirium from too much stuffing or simply bad judgment for causing Elizabeth Lauten, the communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), to flip out on Facebook over the first daughters, Sasha and Malia Obama.

After reading an article linked on Facebook from the conservative site Mad World News about how the Obama daughters “unleash[ed] their annoyance” at President Barack Obama’s annual (and hokey) pre-Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning turkeys, Lauten was incensed beyond reason.

Several outlets covered the turkey pardon, and many playfully chided Sasha and Malia for giving glimpses of teenage indifference during the press conference: they folded arms, rolled eyes and twiddled thumbs as their dad awkwardly fumbled his way though a not-so-funny speech (that invoked Ben Franklin) about sparing the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese.

The girls’ looks of indifference were familiar to anyone with teenagers or anyone who once was a teenager. Most commenters on stories about the girls’ reactions laughed, because while the first daughters’ expressions and body language screamed “over it,” they were also pretty harmless as far as teenagers go. Even the president mentioned that the Washington Post had “questioned the wisdom of the whole turkey pardon tradition,” so it’s not like the girls were expressing something that no one else was thinking.

But the moment pushed Lauten over the clichéd edge and she straight lost it on her Facebook page:


Screenshot of Elizabeth Lauten’s Facebook post.

“Dear Sasha and Malia: I get you’re 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…”

Ma’am! Was that a scolding on what constitutes class from the spokeswoman of an elected official as she publicly blasting minors on her Facebook page? Are you behaving with class when you over-analyze and insult teenage girls?

In exchange for a lesson to the Obama girls on class, might I offer Lauten a word about using common sense and professionalism? Perhaps it would have behooved Lauten—a woman with a few years experience in social and online media and who should have expected scrutiny as the communications director for a U.S. congressman—to refrain from attacking the president’s children.

But that snippet wasn’t even the worst part of her rant.

“Your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much,” Lauten continued. “Or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.”

Yes, because teenagers who roll their eyes are an indication of bad parents and a lack of proper guidance. This, of course, means everyone’s parents sucked. Should teens in need of guidance look up to Lauten, a grown woman who, again, publicly attacks children on Facebook? Is this a proper role model? You tell me.

Lauten wasn’t done though.

“Stretch yourself,” she demanded of the Obama girls. “Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised, public events.”

I don’t know what’s worse here: treating teenagers who act like teenagers as though they’ve committed treason or implying that girls don’t deserve respect because of the length of their skirts. Way to uphold rape culture, Lauten. And why is she even discussing 13- and 16-year-old girls being at a bar anyway? They’re the Obama sisters, not the Bush twins.

Instead of dishing advice to two girls who don’t need it, Lauten needs to take a look at the woman in the mirror and act like having a job as a communications director for a congressman matters to her. Because an adult working in communications who recklessly goes after minors on her Facebook page suggests to me that she doesn’t appreciate benefits or a 401(k). I’m just sayin’.


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  1. […] Elizabeth Lauten thought it was perfectly acceptable to come for the first family’s children. Ma’am are you insane? Teen age girls are not allowed to be teenage girls if they are black. As a counselor, I know first hand that a lot of eye rolling and a general sense of “I’m bored/unbothered” comes with being a teenager. But no, little girls you are black so you are not supposed to be protected. Lauten soon realized that theses black girls were indeed protected and quickly followed up with an apology. The public dragging on twitter was better than any reality TV show. She did not see Sasha and Malia worthy of a childhood and she is not alone in her thinking. […]

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