A Family Affair

Geez … these people do not take a bad picture, like ever.

Most people don’t talk about it that much, but the Obama family is the most telegenic potentially presidential family in recent memory. And this is true no matter how you feel about them. The press never seems to tire of taking pictures of the quartet and nearly all pictures of Barack take an iconic tone, bordering on idolatry. Pictures of the whole Obama unit are postcards of familial bliss. Even Chris Matthews of “Hardball” is frequently amazed at the beauty of the Obama clan, routinely remarking on it whenever they’re together at an event.

If Obama makes it to the White House no matter how turbulent things may get the camera will continue to be his friend. Barack and Michelle’s daughters are incredibly adorable and Malia is especially striking as she has the best of both her parents features. So rather than focus solely on Michelle’s fashion sense, I thought I’d share some recent photos I found of Barack, Michelle and their daughters via the Associated Press from a recent trip to Indiana that became a family photo-op affair.

Michelle warming up the crowd in Durham, North Carolina Friday…

On first glance I wasn’t too wild about this shirt, but only because it reminded me of something Mama Snob would have bought at Coats and Things back in the early 1990s before they went out of business. (I’m almost positive she has a version of this in fall colors). It’s a cute blouse but a bit of a throwback I’d say.

Arriving in Indiana …

At a picnic later …

In that third shot of Barack and Michelle, while adorable, at times I go, “I know they have to get sick at mugging for the camera.” As much as I enjoy these pictures I know the Obama campaign knows I enjoy these pictures hence while I don’t doubt the Obamas’ love for one another but my parents have been “crazy in love” since the 1970s and I’ve never even seen them hold hands.

So that has to be exhausting, to have been married for more than a decade, produced two children and have moved from the “everything you do is magic” phase to the “stop smoking in the house and why can’t you put your socks in the dirty hamper?” phase.

I’m not saying Michelle isn’t the lovey-dovey type, but I also think she believes in her husband, wants him to be our next president and therefore is willing to take on all the suffering of a political wife, which includes pretending like this is the first time you’ve heard this speech, being amazingly polite to a fault and engaging in acceptable PDA, including hand holding and affectionate gestures, but should NOT involve that lip lock Al put on Tipper Gore back in 2000.

I’m still having nightmares about that one.

At a roller skating rink in Indiana

Once again. The Obama campaign knows just how to melt a Snob’s cold, cynical heart. He’s hugging his daughters! They’re all roller skating! I remember when my parents taught me to roller skate! These pictures make me feel all warm and fuzzy! Black love is so beautiful! Why can’t I vote them into the White House RIGHT NOW!

But that’s based on pure emotion as I was raised by two married black people who loved me unconditionally and displayed affection towards me. Once again, I look at my own family and see it in the Obamas as I only have sisters and my father was a giant who I adored (and continue to adore). So, um … these photos completely undercut any rational logic I have.

And later at a rally …

Arriving at South Bend, Ind.

Arriving in Indianapolis

Love the handbag, Michelle. And yet again, another sighting of her favorite black belt.

Looking very uber cool in Indianapolis

Did I mention that Barack Obama is also freakishly telegenic? Seriously. Save the satellite dish ears, he’s a handsome man. And with the Secret Service detail he looks especially presidential.

Speaking to supporters in Indy …

Even if you don’t like them, you’ve got to admit. They pimp photos like none other. I think the only political family that could have rivaled them on pretty points this cycle were the Romneys with the own central casting good looks and their strapping, handsome but goofy adult sons. So we’d be in full-on potentially good looking first family trench warfare if McCain hadn’t bounced them out.

But because they’re not there, the only person the Obamas are doing battle with is Chelsea Clinton who survived her awkward teen years and grew into a very lovely woman. Sadly for Hillary, the camera hasn’t liked her since never. It’s not that she’s unattractive, she just takes really bad photos and has consistently made horrendous clothing choices. Pantsuits were the best thing to ever happen to her. Bill Clinton is often photo ready in spite of himself, as most of his looks are based on his communication skills and charm, which you can’t quite take a picture of.

And John McCain takes a horrible picture. Some of it’s not his fault. He has some scars from skin cancer. Plus he’s really, really old and I hear that can really hurt you in the looks department unless you’re Sophia Lauren, Lena Horne or Harry Belafonte. Something about melanin and olive oil. It really helps with the whole “aging gracefully” thing.

23 thoughts on “A Family Affair

  1. the obama’s do have a lovely family…i lived in arizona for 14 years…john mccain has always looked like an open sore…

  2. Barack makes some pretty babies! Both of those girls are gonna be six foot tall glamazons. Malia looks like a combination of Aaliyah and Tracy Ellis Ross. And the little one, Sasha, looks like a baby version of Beverly Johnson. Too pretty.

  3. I agree that this family is gorgeous. And my upbringing is probably the direct opposite of yours so when I look at them I see what I can have and what I may become.While some of this PDA may be staged for the cameras, not all is. I read somewhere the staffers actually joke about Barack and Michelle playing kissy face backstage at events. Seems it’s just as genuine as them.Thanks so much for a non- political Obama story. Election fatigue is an understatement for me… I’m with my friend who says “Wake me in November.” right about now.

  4. starrie: Well … I wasn’t going to say that about John McCain as politics is not a beauty contest. But if it was, he would have bounced out of the race about thirty years ago.anonymous 4:02 pm: I concur. Those girls are going to grow up to be some fierce looking women. I just think they’re adorable and I haven’t raved about any kids’ photos like that since I looked at the Snob family portrait from 1981.fantastically misunderstood me: I can believe that the Obamas are pro-appropriate PDA, I just know that every time a camera is in their face they have to pretend like today isn’t the “You used my good eyeliner to sign autographs” day. If they don’t act like their proverbial shit does not stink the press would go on and on wondering if there was some fatal flaw in the Obamas’ marriage. Last year Michelle relayed a story of their daughters calling Barry “smelly” and everyone acted like she said, “You know who mommy would rather be married to? Two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington because he probably knows how to put down the toilet seat.”There is simply no room to joke about your husband reeking of cigarette smoke in today’s stick-firmly-in-the-ass politics.

  5. The obamas really are a cute family.I just hope that if they do get in the White House Sasha and Malia don’t end up like those Regan kids.That would be bad. But Michelle don’t look like she play that.

  6. I have to weigh in here and say I think they are for real. Keep in mind they have been apart the majority of the time for over a year. Something to think about. -cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom-BHO

  7. Hey, Why don’t you cross post this at kos? It’s a great collection of pics. I don’t believe it’s fake PDA. First of all they rarely see each other. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I also think Obama has gain a truer sense of family through this process. Having so many knives thrown at you will make you “cling” to those you know love you.

  8. Ok, I do have one complaint about their family’s aesthetics: Those girls’ hair! Now we all know that no self-respecting Black mother is letting her younger-than-10-years-old daughter out the house with her hair just’a free-flying all about in the wind! Those girls ‘(and all girls in my opinion) heads should be braided up! There are lots of cute styles out there, go ahead and pic one!Now, I think its alright for them to wear their hair out for special occasions, like receptions and official functions, but for everyday, please braid it. L

  9. Im sorry, but I just cant resist:”…the Afro my friend, is blowing in the wind, ooooh the Afro is blowing in the wind…”L

  10. lola: Yeah. The hair is a bit of an issue for me too. My mother was fastidious about braiding my and my sisters’ hair. She did not believe in us not having perfect hair at all times. If she did not have the time to press it straight and style it in large twists with ribbons and balls, it was braided close to the scalp in either French braids or braids styled closely and tightly to the scalp. I haven’t scanned in any of the more elaborate pictures of how my mother did our hair. But I did dig up this “<A HREF="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/234/2468838402_5fc119b930.jpg?v=0“ REL=”nofollow”>every day” photo of me at four. I’m wearing my favorite sweater in it and my hair is braided and tied down.I never got to wear my hair down as a kid, ever, unless it was for a piano recital, dance recital or picture day. And I didn’t start wearing it down myself until I was 16.

  11. What I enjoy about those photos (and I like you come from this type of two parent black family) is that you know the girls get “the speech” in the jet and the car and anywhere that there is no camera. “Don’t act a fool.” I remember that conversation well. My brothers and I would get it in the car before we arrived to the restaurant, movie theater, grocery store, mall etc. The thing that fascinated people, particularly white folks, the most was our remarkable ability to be civil, well behaved, smiling children. Older white folks would always pass by our table and remark, “oh look at them they are so cute and well behaved.” my mother and father would give the old bitties a quick look (you know the side eye) then say thank you. Years later my mother and i laugh about that cause we both know “the speech” was always what kept us in line.

  12. Thats such a cute pic of you! Ok I also wanted to add this: If youre going to let your girls wear their hair “out”, then put some curls in it!Ok, Im finished. lolL

  13. In the pic with the pink tie, Obama looks like part of the Secret Service or FBI, etc. I was just telling a couple of my family members yesterday how beautiful & clear his skin is. He was on “Meet the Press” yesterday morning.

  14. Well I am ’bout to be Debbie Downer and tell you a few things I have observed about classes of Black kids that grow up in upper-middle class surroundings (or even of a higher class).Those little girls from what it seems like hang around multi-cultural kids but probably more predominately White. Little White girls wear their hair out and in the “one ponytail clipped” or and “the ponytail holder and headband combination” or the just the ponytail holder. For them, the little White girls, they don’t care about their hair like Black women do in wearing it down or out. More than anything to little White girls’ hair is a nuisance so they pull it out of their faces but for little Black Girls that hang around them, they want to look like their friends. So they want to emulate their same dull “long-hair is a nuisance look”. Little White Girls are not consciously obsessed in looking like us of our hair. They want to emulate their own.But those Obama girls attend an elite private school. They don’t attend MLK Elementary or Rosa Parks Preparatory. The unconscious and conscious attitudes those girls adopt are not of something they will self-analyze and measure. They are innocent. However they are growing to be not like us while we probably are thinking they are similar because we want to hold to these beliefs of some commonality. My students, when I taught who were Black, were older than the Obama Girls were at this age but my students wore “Black” cultural hairstyles of ponytails either done by their mothers or themselves. They however were not as driven then to look or push such “grown” hairstyles. This was the late 90’s. Some of the “grown girls” wore Baltimore hairdos but none of them wore their hair out and flowing. That’s a “thing” of assimilated behavior. Michelle is one busy but she could have the grandmother to do their hair like in default little Black Girl hairstyles. I don’t think the little girls identify with that though. They may see peers at church that look like that but they spend more time with their kind.Integration and assimilation really is doing a number on us. Most of us don’t pay attention to the signals and signs of evolution. These little girls may end marrying their kind too which is not our kind. There parents know this. I guess this is what Michelle wants for her girls — The Best — not what she had. Willow Smith, the daughter of Will and Jada, still wears twists and coded “little girl” hairstyles. That is what Jada is pushing. It’s all about the parenting and the intent of the parent. Willow has her hair out most times but she is “coded” for others to understand she is a child, she understands she is a child, and that her mommy and daddy want her to remain one at the age she is (not allowing their daughter or her friends to dictate their cultural identity and assimilation).

  15. I think I was the one who asked for this post..THANK YOU THANK YOUTHANK YOUI think they are very photogenic. While I won’t get as deep as Andrea, I do believe the hair thing, in these pictures, IS a choice. A very middle-class choice. I’ve seen other pics of Malia and Sasha and before they would have somewhat ethnic hairstyles. (check their hairdos on the trip to Africa, and their pics from last summer – Malia spent most of it in french braids and twist braids.)I do believe having the hair this way IS deliberate and part of the ‘ image’.

  16. What I enjoy about those photos (and I like you come from this type of two parent black family) is that you know the girls get “the speech” in the jet and the car and anywhere that there is no camera. “Don’t act a fool.” I remember that conversation well.LMAO…Seems as if your mother spoke to my mother, because I remember that same conversation..LOLMalia has grown much taller during this campaign.

  17. Wonderful photos, thank you! Studpoet, I laughed when I read your post, as we got “the speech” also, as well as a very private, and well aimed small pinch when we forgot! My parents had us all at a restaurant one day, and an admiring older couple stopped by to say “oh, your children are so well adjusted…” My mother, never one to miss a beat, smiled and said “Oh yes, we adjust them regularly.”

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