|Kennedy Family at Camp David (source: Wikimedia Commons)|
It’s not surprising that I wound up writing a story about a pair of first daughters; I am a First Kid superfan. My interest in children in the White House has been lifelong–I remember seeing old photographs of the Kennedy children in the Oval Office when I was a kid and being fascinated by them. Same for ones of Amy Carter. Chelsea Clinton is not much older than me, and when President Clinton was in office, I soaked up every tidbit I could (harder to do, in the pre-Internet era) about her tweenage life at 1600.
I also have strong memories of some of the media scrutiny Chelsea faced as a first daughter. There were SNL skits that meanly mocked her, and snide comments from journalists like this tone deaf essay from Frank Rich at the NYT, “The Chelsea Show.” Yes, a grown man publicly called out her “gawkiness, frizzy hair, and orthodontically transitional smile.” It appears he was trying to be sympathetic to Chelsea’s plight in his “humorous” essay, but dude: what an ass.
Margaret Truman Daniel, a former first daughter herself, wrote a famous Letter to the Editor to chastise him. It was part of the reason why the media generally stopped reporting on the children of presidents. (The NYT describes that as an “informal pact” between the press and the White House in their article on how Malia Obama’s spring break trip almost became news. It clarifies that unless the girls are with their parents, they are considered off-limits by much of the media.)
I’ve had a lot of impulses over the past couple of years to blog about the Obama girls, for obvious reasons (they are first kids, and they also seem like very cool kids). I’ve tried to hold back. The thing is, it’s a different situation to write about historical first daughters (those that are now deceased), former first daughters (those who are now adults), and the current two. It’s clear that the information released about the Obama girls is closely guarded, as it should be. Administration officials must work very hard to protect a little privacy for the first family, and that is an admirable thing. Perpetuating public interest in the Obama girls–even simply through linking to photos or articles on other sites on my humble blog–doesn’t seem fair. The smidge of privacy they maintain has been hard-won, and it’s important to respect that.
I hope to start sharing more of the information I’ve learned about life at the White House and famous first kids over the next TK-many months until When Audrey Met Alice comes out. Only the fun stuff, though–I promise not to bore you! But one thing you won’t read about here are the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unless it’s a link to or sourced by some kind of official information.
What do you find interesting about First Kids*?
*A nerdy little grammar note: So far as I can tell, it is not grammatically correct to capitalize unofficial titles such as first daughter and first kid. Even First Lady is not an official title, although it is commonly treated as such and therefore capitalization is accepted. Sometimes I do capitalize first daughter or first kid, though, as a stylistic choice to highlight the title. The copy editor part of me is annoyed by this. I should probably start being consistent.