Obama: Discusses daughters, faith, Tea Party on 'Today' show
March 31st, 2010
On Tuesday's "Today" show, President Obama sat down for a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Matt Lauer in the White House. The president — fresh off his legislative victory on health care and a weekend trip to visit troops in Afghanistan — spoke at length on both of those issues. But he also shared some personal thoughts on his daughters, his faith, and the Tea Party movement.
The president beamed over Sasha and Malia, now 8 and 11, saying their adjustment to the White House has been "terrific" — "the happiest thing about the past year and a half."
He did confess some mock apprehension about how Washington political rancor could jeopardize his always precarious standing as a cool dad: "I get a little worried about them when they're teenagers, because I think that’s the time when you’re already embarrassed about your parents. And then imagine if your dad's in the newspaper every day and people are calling him an idiot. So I feel a little worried about that."
He adds that the girls are "not as constrained. ... They can wander around. Theiris a lot more low-key." Obama says he's most proud that the girls are "respectful of everybody" and don't put on "any airs, adding: "I attribute a lot of that to Michelle. She wouldn't put up with any of that stuff."
Lauer asked Obama about why the first family has yet to settle into a D.C.-area church.
"Michelle and I have realized we are very disruptive to services," Obama said. “We occasionally go across the street to St. John’s, which is a church that a lot of presidents traditionally have gone to. We love the chapel up in . It’s probably our favorite place to worship because it’s just family up at Camp David. There’s a wonderful chaplain up there who does just a great job. So usually when we go to Camp David we go to church on Sundays there."
Obama mentioned that he receives a "daily devotional" on the BlackBerry he's so famously attached to.
Discussing the appeal of the Tea Party movement, Obama was careful to separate the fringe convictions of the so-called birthers — activists convinced that the president is not a native-born U.S. citizen — from the broader discontent on the right over the scale of government and
"There's a part of the Tea Party that actually did exist before I was elected … where there’s some folks who just weren’t sure whether I was born in the United States, whether I was a socialist," he said. "Then I think that there’s a broader circle around that core group of people who are legitimately concerned about the deficit, who are legitimately concerned that the federal government may be taking on too much. And I think those are folks who have legitimate concerns. And my hope is that as we move forward and we’re tackling things like the deficit, imposing a freeze on domestic spending, taking steps that show we are sincere about dealing with our long-term problems, that some of that group will dissipate."
— Brett Michael Dykes is a national affairs writer for the Yahoo! News blog.