January 4th, 2010
12:40 PM ET
5 years ago

Steele: Obama 'hypocritical' for sending kids to Sidwell

Michael Steele, in his new book, accuses President Obama of being 'hypocritical' for sending his daughters to a private school.
Michael Steele, in his new book, accuses President Obama of being 'hypocritical' for sending his daughters to a private school.

Washington (CNN) - In his new book, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele accuses President Obama of being "hypocritical" for choosing to send his daughters to an expensive private school while also killing a voucher program that offered low-income children in Washington the chance to do the same.

After winning the presidential race, the Obamas chose to send their daughters Malia and Sasha to the Sidwell Friends School in Northwest Washington, where tuition costs nearly $30,000 a year. In December 2009, Obama signed the 2010 omnibus spending bill, which included language ending the Washington Scholarship Fund, a federally-funded D.C. program that awarded school vouchers to lower-income children.

"Here in D.C., President Obama doesn't have a problem cutting off the lifeline for kids who need a good education as much or more than any children in the nation," Steele writes in his book "Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda," which was released Monday.

"After all, he can afford to send his kids to Sidwell Friends, and he needs to keep the teachers' union bosses happy. He won't sacrifice his own kids for the teachers' unions - and he shouldn't. But he shouldn't sacrifice other people's kids either."

Steele writes that he doesn't fault the president for sending his kids to an elite private school over D.C. public schools, which he calls "the absolute worst in the nation." But he does accuse Obama of being disingenuous.

"Vice President Biden's grandchildren attend Sidwell," he writes. "Bill Clinton's daughter went there too, and so did Al Gore's son. President Obama is just carrying on a hypocritical Democrat tradition that boils down to this: do as I say, not as I do."


Filed under: Michael Steele • President Obama
soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. Al

    I have a question for Mr. Steele,,,,,,,,,,who has the biggest mouth,,,,,,,yourself or D. Cheney????????The two of you are constantly flapping your lips,,,,,but neither of you are saying anything worth-while. Will either of you ever start saying something that is good for our country. If neither of you are capable of this small task,,,,,,why don't you both just shut-up and go away.

    January 4, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Aaron

    So what does Mr. Steele plan to do with the vast majority of kids that will never get a voucher to those private schools? At some point you have to actually work to improve public schools Mr. Steele. Your hate for the teacher's unions does no good for the millions of kids stuck in failing schools. Talk about making a disingenuous argument. I looked for a policy suggestion in the article. Sad, all I saw was finger pointing...AGAIN.

    January 4, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. Sarah, Northern Colorado

    President Obama is likely sending his kids to an exclusive private school because that is where they are least likely to get mobbed, and because Sidwell Friends is used to having kids who are stuck with the Secret Service.

    Regarding his choice to vote against the voucher program, our public schools need that money in order to offer a much higher level of education. Vouchers for sending children to private schools are more of a band-aid than a cure. What about the kids who don't qualify for vouchers, and are stuck in a grade-F school, because that's where they live? It's about giving all children a chance at a proper (if not great) education, not just the select few who qualify.

    January 4, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. jeff

    lol...is this the best the Republicans can come up with? I mean..really ITS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES CHILDREN. So what if he sent them to Private Schools.... DC schools are actually getting better...sick of all this politics. I am Democrat but I dont want total control by Democrats we need a balance of ideas, but geesh these guys sounds down right nuttz all they do is complain complain complain...point figures and act like they were doing everything right for the last 8 years... ok Obama is a Democrat..get over with it..he is the leader of the country disagree with him on valid points and debate! not all this silly stuff.....down right shameful.

    January 4, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. M. Hindin

    WOW. Steele, dude, is this the worst thing you could come up with? Who do you think pays for the Washington Scholarship Fund (taxpayers). And who do you think pays for the Obama girls to go to Sidwell (their parents).

    January 4, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Debbie

    Slippery slope for Michael Steele to be attacking the President on educating his children. Shall we have a report on every child of each person in Congress on where their children go to school? From Kindergarten through College.

    The Bush girls went to Hockaday School a private college prep school.

    Steele needs to focus on GOP platform and not where people send their children to school.

    January 4, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Chris - Denver

    Too bad Republicans are so focused on things like where Obama sends his kids to school and where he buys his puppy. It leaves them too little time to tend to solving our nation's problems.

    January 4, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. linda

    i think is good idea talk about pres children

    January 4, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Vote for Romney

    Why did the dems kill the SUCCESSFUL voucher program? Because it conflicted with the teacher's union. Obama and other leading democrats don't care about people, but perception.

    SEIU and other unions are only relevant as a voting/lobbying block and are bad for economics.

    January 4, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Fed Up

    Yeah, and what else is new? Clinton did the same thing. Good talk, no action.

    January 4, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Carmelle

    OMG Steele! You are a failure...blame Obama!

    January 4, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. JA/TN

    mike, find another fight, what school does your children attend, if you have any,

    January 4, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Habte

    Mr. Steel,

    How does this criticism of the president make any sense to you? So, do you think the Gov't should subsidize private schools now? Wouldn't that be against what you GOPers cry about, gov't spending?

    Obviously, you want your $$fat cat friends on Wall Street to get even fatter. The president cut a program that was not working. He has money so he is sending his girls to a school that he thinks is best for them. Are you advocating that every poor child has a right to go to a school that costs $30K/year and the gov't should pay for it?

    January 4, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Denis -- Ont, Canada

    Who is "hypocritical" . It certainly is not Obama but Michael Steele should look into a mirror to get a clue so that he can find the answer. President Obama is no way near perfect but he so far is the best that the USA has had since Clinton.

    Cheney still doesn't know when to shut up but at least you have to give congratulate W for limiting his comments. Although I ever agrred with him at least he is showing some class by not dumping on Obama.

    January 4, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. David B

    Every time Michael Steele opens his mouth he sounds a little dumber.

    January 4, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. Ken in NC

    Mr. Steele is himself hypocritical for being critical of a family sending their kids to the best school they can afford. The Obamas and many others in this nation have chosen to send their kids to schools other than public schools. It is one of the things all parents would like to be able to do for their kids. Some of us can and others cannot. It makes us no sense to let your children's education be dictated to you by the Chairman of the RNC. If we are going to all do as he wishes, why then is he not providing child support and taking care of our children for us.

    January 4, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. Stanley

    Leave the kids out of it. Steele is going a bit far.

    January 4, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  18. William

    Mr. Steele complains about private school for the Obama children when he himself went to a private school...tuition approx $10k per year.
    Where did Mr. Steele send HIS children to school?

    January 4, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Shelly

    It is disingenuous for Steele to bring this up......do not bring the children up. Perhaps safety and a proper environment for the daughters of the President of the United States of America might have been in consideration in choosing Sidwell!
    The GOP are such SORE LOSERS....pick on everything this President does. It is getting OLD and disgusting!!!

    January 4, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Ron

    What a fraud! He and his republican buddies are crying about spending money to get healthcare to Americans. (OBTW defense budget is roughly $7T over ten yrs.) I wonder how much they would cry over spending $30,000 A YEAR on vouchers to send EACH of DC's poor kids to a private school?? Oh wait, that would be THEIR issue, so no tears at all. What a bunch of chuckleheads! Repubs had better go beg Colin Powell to become the Chairman. Maybe they would stand a chance in 2010. But, this Steele clown is exactly that...a clown.

    January 4, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Kenny

    So what? Richard Nixon's daughter and Nancy Reagan herself went to this school, both Republicans. Looks like some more ill-researched muckraking by the Republicans which will only make them look worse than they already do.

    January 4, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    What? I don't see any Republicans sending their kids to public school. At least most Dems are trying to do something for the schools. Anyway, the point is to fix the schools so that you can send your kids there AFTER they are fixed. You don't send them while the school is still screwed up if you can avoid it. That having been said, I do support vouchers in the meantime, as a stop gap measure, until there is a permanent solution. As always the problem is that you have to fund both at the same time, improving schools and the vouchers until the vouchers aren't necessary anymore.. The balance is the tricky part.

    January 4, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  23. Justin

    It's wrong to use someone else's children to play politics. That's a line that Steele should not have crossed.

    January 4, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. terry,va

    How about putting your children in public schools like the rest of us Obummie? Are they beneath you? You can send a FBI guy to guard them if you feel the need to. I'd like one to guard my children too, but I guess your children are better than mine.

    January 4, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. FM

    Steele, private schools do exist for those who can afford to send their kids there. The President is in such a position. Are you a bit jealous?

    January 4, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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