Barack Obama outlines blunt ultimatum from Malia and Sasha: ‘Do something, daddy!’
John McCain congratulates Obama for election win in 2008
Malia and Sasha, now 22 and 19, have lived highly unusual lives as the daughters of one of the world’s most famous, powerful and influential men. In his emotional new memoir, Barack offers a candid reflection on the difficulty he and wife Michelle faced as they tried to balance the responsibility of bringing up a young family with their public roles. And in one particularly poignant nod to the past, he refers to a dinner the four of them had at the White House residency where his eldest daughter, Malia, asked him what he was “going to do about tigers”.
He explains that Malia insisted the big cats were her “favourite animals” and that she told him: “Well, I did a report about tigers for school and they’re losing their habitat because people are cutting down the forests.
“It’s getting worse because the planet’s getting warmer from pollution plus, people kill them to sell their bones and fur and stuff.
“So tigers are going extinct which would be terrible and, since you’re the President, you should try to save them.”
At this point, younger sister Sasha “chimed in” as the two issued their father an ultimatum: “You should do something, daddy.”
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Cornered, he turned to his wife for support ‒ and received none: “You are the President,” she said.
His anecdote rings true with comments made by the former First Lady in 2010, too.
Addressing a group of children on a visit to the White House, Michelle admitted that Malia’s most frequent question about her father’s job was “what’s he doing to help tigers”.
She added: “He tells her he’s working on it and there are a lot of people who are thinking about it.
“But I think, the Obama household, we’re trying to save the tigers.”
In an earlier extract, the former US President recalls his first official visit to Russia in July 2009.
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He explains that “school was out for the summer” meaning his wife and two daughters travelled with him on Air Force One.
The now 59-year-old then explains how, driving on a Moscow motorway after a lengthy flight, he turned to Malia to check how she was feeling.
He claims “she looked catatonic” and “her big brown eyes” stared at him blankly before adding: “‘I think,’ she said, ‘this is the most tired I’ve ever been in my entire life.’”
This heartbreaking interaction adds to a theme reflected throughout the book ‒ as he delves into the difficulty he had in balancing his commitments as a father with his commitments as a President.
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It follows numerous anecdotes and the occasional hint of sharp words shared between himself and his wife, over time spent away from his family.
Somewhat ironically, he suggests this balance actually got a little bit easier after he won the 2008 election ‒ as the Obama family moved into the White House residency.
As a young state senator, when Barack had to spend long stretches away from home fundraising and campaigning, he could not enjoy the luxury of retiring for an hour to have dinner with his family.
Barack, meanwhile, will no doubt be looking forward to his former Vice President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
Some claimed Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election offered a poor indictment on the Obama administration’s eight years in office.
But after serving for just one term, the property tycoon was convincingly beaten by the 78-year-old ‒ despite baseless claims of voter fraud.
The Obama/Biden ticket teamed up during the campaign, as the former President did all he could to help his friend make it to the White House.
Barack Obama’s ‘A Promised Land’ was published by Viking in 2020. It is available here.
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