The reader might be warned that reading this San Francisco Chronicle Father's Day piece serves as a most perfect emetic. In fact, it's a wonder that writer Jennifer Weiss could type with all those stars in her eyes. Her Father's Day adulation of Obama is so over-the-top that Obama suddenly becomes the "father of our country," and is determined to have "super-dad status."
The most offensive part of this piece is, of course, the aforementioned assigning to Obama of the role of "father of our country." There is only one father of our country and that is George Washington, war hero and first president. No other president is the father of our country, nor can they be so even rhetorically. Yet, in its zeal to be an effusive Obamaton, here is the SFChron reassigning the role from the true father of our country to Obama.
"On this Father's Day, the American public should proudly note that our president takes his personal role as father (and spouse) as seriously as he does his job as father of the country," Weiss writes. To which we can only say, NO, Miss Weiss, Obama does not have the "job" as the "father of our country."
The rest of the piece is so slobberingly, sycophantic that it boggles the mind. Weiss gives us a list of all her examples showing how Obama is the perfect father, some of which are such a stretch that one might suspect that Weiss is a journalistic version of the old kid's toy Stretch Armstrong! Some of Weiss' points, however, are admirable traits in the president as they would be in any father.
First of all Weiss is all excited that Obama "has dinner with his family most nights." This is certainly an admirable habit. Of course, when one works at home, one would have to have an awfully good excuse never to eat with his family. But it is good the president does this. So, the question is, is Barack Obama different from other presidents that had a family in the White House with him? Did JFK ignore the family? Did Nixon, Carter, or W Bush? From what I recall of history, these past presidents also ate with their families in the White House often. If Obama is going to be placed on a higher pedestal as the perfect father than our past presidents we need some historical perspective to know if he is better than they. Unfortunately, the reader is given a disservice by Weiss as she doesn’t bother with such trivial matters as “perspective.”
The second point offered by Weiss is also something to celebrate the president for. According to Weiss, Obama goes to his children's parent teacher conferences. Good for him. I do the same myself, so I applaud the president for this.
The third one is one of those stretches I was talking about. "The president manages to exercise every day before work," Weiss says approvingly. Exercise? That is a chief aspect of being a good father? So, any overweight man can't be a good father? What a load.
Additionally, it might be recalled that George W. Bush was a fitness freak while in office, as well. I seem to recall that the press made fun of him for that. So, I suppose you are only right to exercise "for the kids" if you are a Democrat?
Then there is this: "The president has read all of the Harry Potter books with his daughter Malia."
So, what of Sasha? Does she not get a good read? Because the president read Harry Potter books, "His ability to speak authoritatively on the subjects that interest them -- such as debating the merits of the houses of Slytherin and Gryffindor -- elevates him to super-dad status." Apparently this also is "something to which" we "should aspire?"
I might offer that should the president have read to his children Homer's The Odyssey, The Bible, or any number of western culture's great books, that would make him a far better "super-dad" than reading the empty fantasy of the Harry Potter books. But, that's just me.
It is true that the time spent with his daughter was important, to be sure.
Then we find out that because Obama dances with wife Michele without having to be "begged to hit the dance floor" makes him the perfect husband, too. And because the president invited his mother-in-law to live with them at the White House, well it's just more proof of his wonderfulness, you see. Offering free housing that he doesn't have to pay for himself, either? Hmmm. It's a bit hard to see how that makes him a hero.
And then comes the final word, the Pièce de résistance, if you will.
Come next Father's Day, our banking crisis might not be wholly resolved, the auto industry might not be on its feet again, and health care coverage might not be fully available to the uninsured. But we can only hope that fathers and spouses everywhere will be thinking "What Would Obama Do?" as they navigate through the murky waters of parenthood and family life.
See, in the world I grew up in, a man that was good at his job also made for a good role model as a father. After all, a man's livelihood is a part of the man, part of the whole package. A good father is also a success at his job. This is not to say that only the most successful men are good fathers, but that a man's due diligence at his job, his mastery of his profession is an important part of the example he serves for his children. Yet, here Weiss dismisses Obama's actual job as president by not worrying if he is successful at his job. Oh, he might not fix the banking crisis, save the auto industry, or get healthcare passed, but so what? He's still the best according to Weiss. It's a glaring contradiction.
And then there is this bizarre "what would Obama do" blather. This is a take off on the religious saying “what would Jesus do?” and used here it almost seems blasphemous. I'd suggest that any father that has to ask himself what Obama would do before he is able to father his own children has far more problems than mere parenting skills. I, for instance, will not be asking, “what would Obama do.” I will likely be asking myself what would my own father do? He is my role model. This president is far, far down the list of my role models, for sure.
Look, it is a good thing that Barack Obama loves his children, a good thing that he spends time with them and loves his wife. It also makes him a good role model in that respect. But, taken with the whole of the media's slavish love for The One, this piece seems a mockery of journalism.
Can’t we even have Father’s Day without Obama taking it over?