As role models-in-chief, Michelle and Barack Obama shoulder a solemn burden on behalf of the nation: they set an example for the rest of us, and we follow that example religiously. This is why we all have Portuguese water dogs, buy our clothes at J. Crew, dine exclusively on organic vegetables, and undergo very public struggles with our addiction to cigarettes.
The Obamas clearly know that we're watching their every move, which is why they should be careful when they start revealing all their secrets to child-rearing. Take, for example, this thing Michelle Obama said in San Franciscoat an event with Maria Shriver:
She said that she had instituted what she called 'Camp Obama' at the White House, which means that the TV and computer stay off all day until after dinner and before bedtime, adding that bed time was early.
The no-TV approach sounded like a good idea to California's first lady, who suggested that she might implement a similar rule and would blame it all on Obama.
If every family in America started following Michelle Obama's example, the television industry would be positively crippled. Ad revenues for network television fell nearly 12 percent in the first quarter of this year even without her singing the praises of the TV-free life. Many consumers, hurt by the recession, are trimming household budgets by reducing or doing away entirely with their cable subscriptions. Is it really appropriate to be kicking the television industry when they're down?
We have a proud tradition in this country of sitting our children down in front of the tube the moment they emerge from the womb, and only letting them up for bathroom breaks until they're 21. And at that point, they're illiterate and easily distracted and plump, just like their elders.
If the First Lady wants to mess with our wonderful national culture in the name of "good parenting," she's going to have a lot of explaining to do to the many generations of children who were raised by MTV.