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Opinion: Barack Obama fulfills a parental duty before returning to politics

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Barack Obama probably was going to make time anyway to accompany his two young daughters as they started their new school year today. But the sudden spotlight on politicians as parents following Sarah Palin’s emergence on the national scene made it all the more politically necessary for him do so.

A campaign appearance in Flint, Mich., awaited, but before departing he joined Malia, a fifth-grader, and Sasha, a second-grader, on their first day at the University of Chicago Lab School (a large, private facility founded more than a century ago by famed educator John Dewey).

Entering the school, Obama walked between the pair, hand-in-hand with each. He stayed inside for about 10 minutes.

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The Chicago Tribune’s Mike Dorning has more on the scene at The Swamp blog.

In Flint, Obama confided to his listeners that his oldest reacted typically to his presence in her world. ‘The fifth-grader didn’t want me to up to the classroom,’ he said, ‘but I went.’ He added, ‘She’s still daddy’s girl.’

Obama then focused on the matter of running for the White House, which has occupied his time for more than a year and a half and kept him away from the home front many a night. As he did while campaigning this weekend, Obama scoffed at the effort by Republican ticket mates John McCain and Palin to, in his characterization, ‘repackage themselves’ as agents of change.

‘We’ve been talking about the need to change this country for 19 months,’ Obama said. ‘I guess it must be working because suddenly John McCain is saying, ‘I’m for change too.’ ‘

Taking aim at Palin, he accused her ...

of flip-flopping on the claim she has made continuously since McCain picked as his vice presidential choice: that as Alaska’s governor, she opposed federal funding for the infamous ‘bridge to nowhere’ that became a symbol of government pork.

Obama argued that during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Palin talked about the project in supportive terms.

‘She was for it until everyone started raising a fuss about it,’ Obama said. ‘You can’t just re-create yourself. You can’t just reinvent yourself. The American people aren’t stupid. What they’re looking for is someone who has been consistently calling for change.’

The Times’ Peter Nicholas was at the event and reports that it cut against the grain of the large, raucous rallies that often serve as Obama’s venues. This gathering of about 325 people was held at a community center. The audience was comprised of both supporters and undecided voters invited by the campaign’s field staff in a traditionally Democratic state that Obama almost surely has to carry to have a chance to win the presidency.

-- Don Frederick


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