Ah, the holidays. The time to give gifts, spread cheer and, if you are Elizabeth Lauten, the communications director for Representative Stephen Fincher, Republican of Tennessee, viciously verbally attack two children for appearing disinterested in the sparing of a turkey at the White House.
When President Barack Obama engaged in perhaps the dumbest American tradition of all—the ceremonial presidential “pardoning” of a turkey on Thanksgiving—his daughters Malia and Sasha, 16 and 13, stood by his side and did their jobs as representatives of the nation’s #Teens by rolling their eyes at the whole production. When POTUS asked Malia if she wanted to pet the turkey before he granted its reprieve, she responded appropriately: “Nah.”
To most people, this was funny and humanizing—maybe even charming! As Max Read over at Gawker put it: “Not even the pomp and ritual of the White House can overcome the most powerful force known to man: TEEN CONTEMPT.”
But to Lauten, the performance was classless and slutty, or something.
On Facebook, Lauten wrote:
“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, 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.”
There’s so much going on here. Where to begin!?
“…try showing a little class.”
Nothing says class like a middle-aged woman shaming two teenaged girls on social media for not being Stepford Children!
“…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.”
Yes, take it from the mid-level flack, Malia and Sasha, your father—leader of the free world—is nobody to look up to.
“…Dress like you deserve respect…”
Lauten is prone to wearing large pearl necklaces, hoop earrings and unflattering dresses of bright hues and elephant prints (because she’s a Republican! Get it?) This is the type of woman who is probably under the impression that Lilly Pulitzer is haute couture and Maison Martin Margiela is a commander in the French army, so it’s no surprise that she couldn’t recognize that Malia and Sasha looked totally age-appropriate and cute on Thanksgiving.
“…not a spot at a bar.”
Though if Malia and Sasha did want a spot at the bar, they should probably ask George W. Bush's daughters Jenna and Barbara for some pointers. In 2001, the then-First Daughters were charged with underage alcohol offenses after being caught trying to buy drinks with fake IDs.
“…And certainly don’t make faces during televised, public events.”
This is sound advice from Lauten, a communications specialist who doesn't know enough about communications to realize that attacking children on social media is in poor taste, and might reflect negatively on her boss.
Lauten did not respond to a Facebook message I sent her. But she apparently apologized online on Saturday.
"I reacted to an article and quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager," she wrote. "After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents and re-reading my words online, I can see more clearly how hurtful my words were. Please know that these judgmental feelings truly have no pace in my heart. Furthermore, I'd like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience."
Update: It appears Lauten has deleted the apology from Facebook.