The list of reasons to admire Barack Obama is longer than Pennsylvania Avenue. But please, and I'm begging here, let's not hold him up as an exemplary husband simply because he takes his wife out on a date.
On Sunday, the New York Times did just that, with a story headlined "If They Can Find Time for a Date Night ..." The gist: If the Obamas with Mom committed to her various causes and Dad trying to save the free world can still find time for each other, hey, lame husband sitting on the couch watching sports, time to step it up. The writer suggests that the President has placed an "elbow in the ribs of husbands," while Jon Stewart has joked, "Take it down a notch, dude." (See pictures of the Obamas dancing on Inauguration Night.)
Yes, daily down time and date nights are cathartic and healthy. My wife and I, working parents with two young children, have strived, with varying amounts of success, to find the right moments to put out an APB for a sitter. But in the relationship department, no husband or couple should ever wonder why they're not meeting a standard set by the Obamas.
Did you catch that NBC special on the White House? The Obamas happen to have some of the world's smartest people working tirelessly on the dirty details of governance. Think those staffers working till midnight and grinding away the weekends spend a ton of blissful time with their spouses? Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is killing himself while his wife and kids are stuck back in Chicago. Now there's a guy I can relate to. (See pictures of Obama in France.)
Barack Obama also has a few other advantages over me. Forget the 8,000 cooks, maids and other White House personnel who prepare the food, do the dishes and fold the clothes. It's easier to cuddle on the couch and grab dinner and a show like the Obamas recently did in New York City when all that stuff is taken care of. At least I'm guessing. No, the advantages I'm thinking of are his 15-second commute to the office. And the fact that if the Obamas want to head out for the night, Michelle's mother Marian can watch the kids. (Before people start swooning over Obama's welcome embrace of his mother-in-law, remember: the dude lives in a 132-room house.) The advantage that matters most, of course, is the plane. Air Force One makes romantic evenings in Paris a lot more possible.
The thing is, Obama is the first to acknowledge his enormous leg up when it comes to family life. He's obviously working hard, and you can't blame him for taking advantage of an opportunity to eat dinner with Michelle and the kids. I would do the same thing if I were President. But I'm not. And I'd thank the world to stop reminding me of that little fact, especially on date night.