Opinion: Obama on life in a family of women: ‘It’s me and Bo’


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President Obama sat down for an interview yesterday with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. As part of her network’s week-long focus on the role of women (captained by California First Lady Maria Shriver), Guthrie asked the president for his views.

His short answer, ‘If women are thriving, everybody is thriving.’

Kind of diplomatic for a guy who lives with First Lady Michelle Obama, their two daughters and his mother-in-law.


‘I’m surrounded,’ Obama said when asked about his all-female household. ‘It’s me and Bo,’ the first family’s Portuguese water dog.

Elsewhere in the interview, Obama talked about the career sacrifices women routinely make in raising children, and about how men tend to be ‘a little obtuse about this stuff.’ Take a listen.

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But he did take issue with critics who assailed his recent invitation to the House of Representatives’ pick-up basketball squad, calling it ‘bunk’ to suggest a sexist motive.

A full transcript, provided by NBC, is below.

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OBAMA: Today’s Obama family is obviously not typical. Five years ago, six years ago, though, we were having a lot of negotiations. Because Michelle was trying to figure out, okay, if the kids get sick, why is it that she’s the one who has to take time off of her job to go pick them up from school, as opposed to me? You know, the girls need to shop for clothes... Why is it that it’s her burden and not mine?

Now, you know, what I tried to do was to learn to be thoughtful enough -- and introspective enough -- that I wasn’t always having to be told that things were unfair (laughs). And then once in awhile, I’d actually voluntarily say, ‘You know what? Let me relieve this burden on you. Let me make some sacrifices, in terms of how I’m using my time.’ But, you know, there’s no doubt that our family, like a lot of families out there were ones in which the men are still a little obtuse about this stuff.

GUTHRIE: How are you obtuse?

OBAMA: Need to be, need to be knocked across the head every once in awhile, in terms of, you know, making sure that everybody is-- is-- is treated fairly.

GUTHRIE: Do you feel like you had to come to that recognition?

OBAMA: Absolutely. And, look, the truth is that Michelle still had to make sacrifices of the sort that I did not have to make.