WASHINGTON – An aide to a Republican congressman has resigned after her critical comments about President Barack Obama’s daughters touched off a backlash.
Elizabeth Lauten, communications director to Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, commented on Malia and Sasha Obama’s pose and dress at a White House ceremony last week in which the president pardoned a turkey.
Lauten posted on Facebook that the girls were “coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department” and needed to dress and behave more appropriately as she commented on their appearance at their father’s traditional pardoning of two Thanksgiving turkeys this week.
“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.”
Lauten later apologized for the comments on her Facebook page that had drawn harsh criticism.
Jessica Carter, chief of staff for Fincher, said Monday that Lauten resigned. Carter had no additional comment on a personnel matter.
After the post became the topic of conversation on a variety websites, Lauten issued an apology, saying “many hours of prayer,” conversations with her family and a re-reading of her words made her reconsider the post.
“When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager,” Lauten told The Commercial Appeal of Memphis in an email. “Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words.
Roy Herron, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, issued a statement Monday calling Lauten’s criticism of the Obama daughters “cruel, outrageous and inexcusable.”
Herron called the comment an “unprecedented low in Washington mudslinging” and “absolutely toxic for our civic life and political culture.”
Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, tweeted Monday that “children, especially the first daughters, are off limits.”
But while Lauten’s comments were “inappropriate and insensitive, the mainstream media’s coverage of this story is appalling,” Spicer said, adding that in more than 20 years in politics, he has “never seen one of the countless inappropriate comments by Democrats ever covered to a fraction of this” remark by a previously unknown staffer.
Fincher represents most of rural West Tennessee and parts of East Memphis.