NEW YORK -- As if they didn't have enough on their plate, what with setting the political agenda and overturning establishment candidates, Republican and Democrat, in a good number of primaries, some conservatives with nothing better to do are huffing and puffing again at our beleaguered president.
The latest Obama goof? The spirited commentators on the right are accusing President Obama, who is already prematurely gray from so much heave and ho, with exploiting his young daughters to sell his latest book. The girls, Sasha and Malia, and their dog, Bo, are shown bouncing along on the sunny illustration that serves as the upbeat book jacket for Obama's "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters."
Now, really, what's the fuss? It's a children's book, for goodness sakes. It makes sense that the likeness of his daughters would adorn the book's cover jacket. Was he exploiting the girls? Really! Are we not being a little ridiculous here?
True, Obama seemed to lay down the law regarding the girls back in July 2008, after his daughters appeared on "Access Hollywood,'' when he told ABC, "I don't think it's healthy and it's something that we'll be avoiding in the future." There has since been a rule that his daughters are off limits to the media, though we've seen plenty of them, mostly on vacation (see how tall they are getting!) in Spain, in Panama City, Fla., and most recently on Martha's Vineyard last month.
That's hardly exploitation. Come on! Yet, Byron York, the chief political correspondent of the Washington Examiner, warned in a column on Tuesday: "...It's been a rule the president has observed at times and ignored at others. Now, it appears, is one of those times he's ignoring it."
So here's the big deal York is mouthing about. The book, a slim 40 pages (Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99 at stores, $9.89 on Amazon.com) is part of a three-book $1.9 million deal Obama signed before he became president, says Politics Daily's Lynn Sweet. This isn't a case of the president cashing in on his exalted title and position.
As to the mushy title, which some people have moaned about, I'd guess that Obama or his publisher was trying to keep to the theme he started with his first memoir, Dreams From My Father. Now we've got Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.. Next, Sonnets to My Michelle? Just kidding. Don't mean to offend.
Prickly conservatives who are making a to-do about the illustration of the Obama girls or the book title have momentarily lost their heads (not that that is unusual). I can think of half a dozen things to get on Obama about, but exploiting his daughters is just so far-fetched it's funny.
Remember in 2008 when MSNBC's David Shuster, a rabid Obama backer, accused the Clintons of exploiting their daughter, Chelsea, then in her 20s, by having her go on the campaign trail with her mother? They were "pimping her out," is the crude way Shuster put it. Now, Byron York is hardly such a low sort. Still, he's reaching far out.
Even the most mulish Tea Party advocate should know that. But then they can't help it. They are giddy setting the political agenda and having their every pronouncement taken to heart by wounded liberals who seem to be aching and bleeding.