Inevitably, the reaction to the Elizabeth Lauten fiasco* is to post pictures of Sarah Palin’s daughters in skimpy clothing and/or brawling, and to compare that to the poise of Sasha and Malia Obama. It is, I suppose, a valid argumentative point when responding to an anti-Obama conservative about the entire matter…but it’s not an answer to the problem and doesn’t address the actual problem. The actual problem is, why did Elizabeth Lauten, an adult, the Communications Director for Stephen Fincher (R-TN) feel a need to take to Facebook to castigate President Obama’s daughters for what seem to be things made up entirely in her mind based on one crappy photograph from the White House Thanksgiving turkey-pardoning ceremony?
Elizabeth Lauten gets that Sasha and Malia are “in those awful teen years” but exhorts them to “try showing a little class.” She then insults President and Mrs. Obama and laments the fact that Sasha and Malia are “coming up a little short in the good role model department.” Nevertheless, according to Elizabeth Lauten, President Obama’s daughters should endeavor to “stretch” themselves, “rise to the occasion,” and “act like being in the White House matters” to them. Elizabeth Lauten then takes it upon herself to instruct Sasha and Malia Obama to “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar” and not to make faces at public events. “Televised, public events.”
Where and how does one begin to address this condescending word salad?
From what I could make out from the small photograph, Sasha and Malia are wearing sweaters and dresses, their usual garb for occasions such as this. They both appear to be in relaxed and somewhat bored poses, and President Obama has his head turned towards them. I don’t know the circumstances of this shot. Maybe it was taken before President Obama started speaking, or after, and his daughters were just standing like regular teenagers before a somewhat silly adult affair, waiting for it all to be over so that they could eat Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe they were hungry. Maybe their shoes pinched. Maybe their father was saying something to them before he started his speech. Maybe…maybe none of this is even worthy of speculating about, so why did Elizabeth Lauten seize upon this single poor-resolution photograph to mock Sasha and Malia’s clothing and bearing? Why did Elizabeth Lauten, an adult, choose to write an open letter to children when clearly her problem is with their parents?
Elizabeth’s Lauten’s apology is troubling because it came only after “hours of prayer” and a consultation with her mother. It didn’t come 60 seconds after she hit post and started to read what she had just written to two children. It didn’t come one moment after she thought dear God what is the matter with me? It came after HOURS of prayer, and running it by another human being.
Elizabeth Lauten didn’t come to the conclusion that she had said terrible things on her own, or with God’s help, or her mother’s help, in five or ten minutes. It took HOURS.
This is a blatant example of an adult cyberbullying children, and posting pictures of someone else’s children…at least one of whom is an adult…behaving badly is not addressing the issue. It’s not asking the questions that should be asked.
Who is Elizabeth Lauten?
Why did she write such a bizarre thing?
Why does she cyberbully children?
Why did it take her hours to realize she had done an awful thing?
Why does she still have a job?
If you are as angry as I am about the answers to the questions above, please ask those questions and don’t sink to Elizabeth Lauten’s level by mocking other people. That solves nothing.