Opinion » The Rant

The Rant (December 4, 2014) …

About Elizabeth Lauten’s comments on Sasha and Melia Obama.



In my older, softer age I've tried to make a habit of not kicking people in print when they are already down, but I can't seem to apply that to Congressman Stephen Fincher's communications director Elizabeth Lauten and her Thanksgiving Day Facebook post in which she wrote some inexplicably (especially for a self-professed communications guru) mean and indefensible remarks about Sasha and Malia Obama and their parents, President and First Lady Obama. Lauten doesn't deserve that break because she probably doesn't realize she is down. I don't think she's smart or wise enough to get it, if she really even cares.

In her Facebook post, which I'm sure she thought was very clever, she wrote:

"Dear Sasha and Malia, I get that you're both in those awful teen years, but you're part of the First Family, try showing a little class. Then again your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department. Nevertheless, stretch yourself. 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."

  • REUTERS/Larry Downing

She was referring to the annual, televised White House pardoning of the turkey event, where Sasha and Malia weren't making faces but just looked a bit bored at one point in the ceremony. At other points, they were laughing. The bored look got photographed and circulated throughout the media, garnering mostly funny comments from people who understand that teenage girls are sometimes just teenage girls. Sasha was wearing a grey sweater and plaid miniskirt, and Malia was wearing a crimson-red dress with a nice cardigan sweater. They looked great.

Only after Lauten's snotty diatribe was unleashed on Facebook and Twitter and was massively berated, she finally broke down and posted this apology: "After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and rereading my words online, I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, these judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience." Lauten also lamented that she had "judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager."

There is so much wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin. Notice that she didn't address the "apology" to Sasha and Malia personally but just to "all of those who I have hurt." Sounds more like she was trying to summon up a little disaster control and merely pander to the thousands of people who were calling for Fincher to fire her. I can't even find where he issued any comment at all. But this isn't really about him.

And stop it with the "many hours of prayer" and the statement that "these judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart." How many hours of prayer does it take to realize that posting about two teenage girls (for millions of people to read) that they have no class and their parents are worthless might just be a bit hurtful? And all the while Lauten just kept tweeting about her Kate Spade purchases and complaining about how her websites were having problems and publicly belittling the tech assistant who was trying to help her. My, what a person of such great depth. Hopefully, her e-magazine website about "all things pink, green, and pearls" will be back up and running soon.

I don't buy the crocodile tear-stained apology for a minute, and it's my humble opinion that if those judgmental feelings truly have no place in her heart she wouldn't have written that post in the first place. It's not like anyone asked her to comment on the teens. And if she does ever offer up a real apology, I hope she doesn't keep apologizing for her "words" but instead for her behavior. And it goes without saying that she owed the president and first lady an apology for suggesting that they don't care about their positions. That was just right-wing drivel from another Tea Party lemming.

And when and if she ever does issue a real apology, she should apologize to the people of Tennessee and the people of Memphis for casting us in this unfathomably wretched light around the globe. We have enough to worry about without her supposedly working for this state and our 8th District and using her position to spread unnecessary venom under the guise of what I still think she thought was a witty and whimsical Facebook post.

I think this probably hasn't changed her at all, other than forcing her to resign. But then that would mean I am being judgmental about someone for being judgmental.

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