“Bait[ing]” Sasha Obama

Having filed her official Washington Post column about her recent ride with fellow columnists (Bob Herbert, Ron Brownstein, E.J. Dionne, Clarence Page) on Air Force One, Kathleen Parker dumped what remained in her notebook at The Daily Beast yesterday.

Here is Parker explaining how the group interview with Obama differed from similar interactions with his predecessor:

[Obama:] “How are we going to run this thing?”

Eh? The president was asking us how we wanted to proceed. For the record, this is very un-Bush. At several meetings with the former president, including a one-on-one interview aboard Air Force One, there was never any question about how we would proceed. Bush ran all shows. Either Obama hasn’t figured out yet that he’s the boss or, possibly, he doesn’t care. As a veteran White House correspondent suggested to me later, “Maybe he knows he can handle whatever we toss his way.”

…In a small room with a few journalists, [Obama] is a teacher, mindful that his students are trying to write down what he says.

Parker explained how her (somewhat creepy) “strategy” to grab Sasha Obama’s attention was a great success:

[Malia and Sasha Obama] seemed utterly at ease with five strangers— especially, may I say, with the sole female, who just happened to have a little green Ugly Doll hanging from her purple purse, very similar to one spotted several weeks ago on Sasha’s book bag.

The guys may talk football, leaving some women reporters clueless, but guys don’t know jack about the Ugly Doll fashion phenom begun by one Sasha Obama several weeks ago. I wouldn’t call my Ugly Doll “bait” exactly, but I might call it strategy. As a conversation starter, it worked.

And finally, this observation:

I was also struck by how lean and fit everyone is. The Obamas are thin people, a sight to behold in the age of obesity.

Seems like just yesterday I was reading that Obama’s skinniness could be a campaign liability

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.