BY BILL DELEHUNT
One of the dumbest “ceremonies” over which the U.S. President presides is the pardoning of a turkey just before Thanksgiving. Various tall tales about this tradition include Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman and John Kennedy giving a reprieve to turkeys destined for the dinner table, and somehow, the practice has become a bizarre annual tradition. When President Obama’s daughters were forced in front of cameras in 2014 for this questionable ritual they were 13 and 16 years old. Elizabeth Lauten, then the communications director for a Tennessee congressman, scolded the girls, writing, “Try showing a little class. 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.” Lauten was forced to resign her position.
These are children. They are not political enemies, nor are they able to defend themselves from vicious attacks from adults. They don’t deserve to be scrutinized under the same microscope as the politicians who happen to be their parents.
Katie Rich, a writer for Saturday Night Live (SNL), decided to have fun at the expense of President Donald Trump’s youngest child, Barron, who is 10 years old. She tweeted a tasteless, humorless “joke” saying “Barron will be this country’s first homeschool shooter,” and then removed it from her page a few hours later. She subsequently was suspended from her job, although she had already apologized.
She should stay in the penalty box for a good long while. Maybe that will give her some time to reflect on her inexcusable behavior towards a child. Assuredly, she needs to stay off Twitter until she gains a mature understanding of adult responsibilities in a civilized society; maybe she’ll have grown up by the mid-term elections.
Barron is 10 years old, for crying out loud. How many of you remember what it was like to be 10 years old? You were most likely in fourth grade, give or take a year.. You wiped your nose on your sleeve, tripped over your own feet as you tried to adjust to your constantly changing body, and you were incredibly self-conscious and awkward when thrust into a group of adults. That’s life for most 10-year-olds, who should be running around the ball field, playing video games and waiting for summer vacation.
Barron didn’t ask his father to run for public office, nor did he ask to be thrust into the international spotlight. To attack the president by belittling his child is so far out of bounds it’s not even on the same planet. Another public figure, Rush Limbaugh, darling of the right wing, has gone out of his way to insult the children of democratic presidents. During President Clinton’s term, Limbaugh said he wanted to show his audience a picture of the cat in the White House, and then held up a photo of Socks, the Clinton’s pet cat. He followed it with the line that he would show a picture of the dog in the White House, and displayed a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who had turned 13 just after the Clintons had taken up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Wow, that is so funny, Rush, calling a young teenage girl a dog.
The really disturbing thing is, Rush’s audience laughed at that unfunny, mean-spirited attack on a teenage girl. What does that say about the intelligence level of Rush’s audience? About their humanity? But wait, there’s more.
Rush Limbaugh also called Amy Carter, “the most unattractive presidential daughter in the history of the country.” Amy was nine years old when her father was elected 39th President.
At least Katie Rich is out of a job because her employers at NBC have principles. Rush Limbaugh, however, can be as vile as he likes and his audience cheers him on. I’m sure he’s not the only one who gets away with it, but the fact that things like that can be said without repercussions is not ok.
Those who think children should be targets of political jokes, political gossip, political anything are grotesque bullies, cowards of the worst stripe. We all acknowledge that today’s political climate is overheated and badly out of whack, but let’s at least attempt to maintain some basic standards of civility.
Children are OUT OF BOUNDS in the political discourse.
Why does something so unbelievably obvious even have to be said out loud? The minor children of politicians and others in the public eye are simply off limits. Stop it, you ghouls.