Congressional Aide Resigns After Comments About Obama Daughters

Monday, December 1st 2014, 11:27 am
By: News 9

CBS News has confirmed that Elizabeth Lauten, the Congressional aide who faced backlash after criticizing President Obama's daughters Friday on Facebook, is resigning from her post as communications director for Tennessee Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher.

According to CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, the criticism blew up immediately, proving once again that leaving no thought unexpressed on social media is almost always a dangerous move -- especially when it breaks the unwritten rule that a president's children are off limits.

Lauten's comments stemmed from the White House turkey pardoning ceremony, a quaint Washington tradition. Judging by the body language of 16-year-old Malia and 13-year-old Sasha, they were pretty much over it.

"Do you want to pet him?" Mr. Obama asked his daughters.

"Nah!" Malia responded.

In highly polarized Washington, even that teenage reaction got caught up in partisanship.

Lauten went after the first daughters on Facebook: "... try showing a little class... Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar. And certainly don't make faces during televised, public events."

The reaction to Lauten's post was unforgiving.

"Whatever your differences with President Obama, you can't lay a glove on either the president or the First Lady as parents," said presidential historian Doug Wead, who wrote a book on children raised in the White House. "They've been absolutely great parents."

Over the years, the privacy of first children is generally respected, but there have been exceptions.

Remember when George W. Bush's daughters, Barbara and Jenna, got in trouble for underage drinking when they were college students? One writer faulted the Bush's parenting skills and asked if there might be a connection to their father's past drinking problem.

Chelsea Clinton's awkward teenage appearance was once a punch line in a "Wayne's World" sketch. Sen. John McCain even joked that she looked that way because then-Attorney General Janet Reno was really her father.

Jimmy Carter's daughter, Amy, was criticized for reading a book during a state dinner in 1977. She was 9 years old at the time.

"The child can't really chose who their parents are, and to throw this burden on them I think is universally accepted that it's unfair," Wead said.

Lauten had second thoughts a few hours later and posted an apology, saying she had judged them in a way she never would have wanted to be judged as a teenager.

The White House had no comment.