One of the best parts of growing up is getting to do things on your own. But members of political families give up that freedom so that their fathers, mothers, grandparents might serve.
That was the case for Susan Eisenhower when her grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, became the 34th President of the United States. And that is also the case for the Obama girls. So when the NRA launched a web ad that made it seem that Sasha and Malia were lucky to enjoy armed protection at their school while the rest of the nation’s children did not, Susan Eisenhower felt the need to speak out.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post, the presidential granddaughter–who had armed guards assigned to her throughout her grandfather’s presidency–wrote that ”any thinking person has to be disgusted by the National Rifle Association ad … suggesting that the president is an ‘elitist hypocrite’ because his children have the benefit of armed protection at school and the nation’s children as whole do not. This is absurd.” She added: “How lucky is it to grow up with a loss of privacy and freedom, along with the psychological effects of a childhood shadowed by armed bodyguards?”
Presidential families have these guards because they are, as Eisenhower described to Andrea Mitchell, “an extension of the president himself.” That made Eisenhower and her brother David into targets.
It hearkens back to an old episode of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing. In an argument with his daughter about her security detail–and her vehement desire not to have one–President Bartlet talks about his “nightmare scenario.” He tells his daughter, “They are worried about me getting shot. I’m worried about me getting shot. But that is nothing compared to how terrified we are of you.”
“We talk about how we value freedom,” Eisenhower explained to Andrea Mitchell, “even the NRA talks about their freedom. But nobody talks about the people who sacrifice theirs for the public good. And that is certainly the case of any First Family…So I think we really have to put all that aside and talk about the real issues at play here.”