WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama on Wednesday ended his final press conference as commander in chief with a heartfelt message to his daughters.
The final question of his presidency came from the Tribune’s Washington bureau reporter Christi Parsons, who has covered Obama since his days in the Illinois state senate. She asked a personal question, on how he and first lady Michelle Obama explained November’s election results to his daughters Malia and Sasha, referencing how the first lady spoke in such personal terms about President-elect Donald Trump’s history of misogyny.
“You know, every parent brags on their daughters or their sons. If your mom and dad don’t brag on you, you’ve got problems. But, man, my daughters are something, and they just surprise and enchant and impress me more and more, every single day as they grow up,” he said.
Obama said his daughters “were disappointed” by the election results in part because of the values communicated by the first lady in her speech.
“They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it’s consistent with what we’ve tried to teach them in our household and what I’ve tried to model as a father with their mom and what we’ve asked them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses,” he said. “But what we’ve also tried to teach them is resilience and we’ve tried to teach them hope, and that the only thing that is the end of the world is the end of the world. And so, you get knocked down, you get up, brush yourself off and you get back to work.”
Obama said that he does not expect them to enter politics themselves but they understand “that they need to be active citizens” and “try to shed some light as opposed to just generate a lot of sound and fury, and I expect that’s what they’re going to do.”
Of his daughters, he said that their mindset reflects that of their generation and “makes me really optimistic” about the future of the country, despite the uncertainty surrounding the Trump presidency — though as usual, he did not refer to the president-elect directly.
“I think at the end of the day, if we work hard and if we’re true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time,” he said. “That’s what this presidency has tried to be about, and I see that in the young people I’ve worked with. I couldn’t be prouder of them, and so, this is not just a matter of ‘no drama Obama.’ This is what I really believe.”