September 19th, 2009
11:39 AM ET

Dear President Obama #243: "Family Feud"

Reporter's Note: President Obama wants advice. I want to write letters. It’s a match!

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/18/michelle.obama.health.reform/art.michelleobama.gi.jpg caption="First lady Michelle Obama listens to remarks during a health care forum at the White House on Friday."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I think presidents, politicians, and furniture salesmen should be very careful in the way they use their families. Sure, it’s seems all well and good to have the grandkid cavorting on the Stratolounger during the late news, while grandpa sits alongside, mugging to the camera and saying “I won’t sell you my pride and joy, but I’ll practically give away this dinette set!” But when gramps gets busted for tax evasion, and the ottomans are put up for auction, I’m sure the whole family has second thoughts about having made little Billy into a local TV star.

I mention this because I was watching your wife Michelle out pushing your health care plan, and I heard her talking about your real life fears when one of your daughters seemed as if she might be very sick. As a parent, I sympathize. Her comments were compelling, especially considering she was once a hospital administrator. She is, like you, a wonderful speaker. Couple that with her approval ratings, (which, no offense, are way higher than yours) and I can see how she could be a very effective weapon in trying to revitalize your quest for fire on this issue. And certainly she has every right to speak up.

But I must say this can be dicey territory; not so much politically, but personally. Once public figures thrust their families into the ring, where the fists and fury fly, it can be hard to get them back out again. I’m honestly not trying to give you a difficult time, I’m just saying I hope you have thought this over and considered it carefully as a regular family… not as the First Family. Because if one of your opponents now challenges what the First Lady said, she and you will find it just a little harder to sell the message of, “The family is off limits.”