Obama says poor relatives keep his kids grounded
August 1st, 2013
08:03 AM ET
12 months ago

Obama says poor relatives keep his kids grounded

(CNN) – Their home has its own bowling alley, movie theatre, and chef.

But while living in the White House could leave Sasha and Malia Obama with a distorted sense of how Americans live, their father says he's always conveying to his daughters how abnormal their situation really is.

"We are constantly reminding Malia and Sasha of the slightly unreal environment that they're in, and that that's not the norm and they shouldn't expect to be the norm," President Barack Obama said in an interview for the Amazon Kindle store.

Having relatives who don't live like the commander-in-chief – and even struggle to get by – has kept his children grounded, Obama said.

"One of the advantages we have is that we still have family members who are not only middle class, but we've got some family members who are poor," he told Amazon editor David Blum. "Malia and Sasha have cousins who know what it's like to struggle and know what it's like to have to scrape by. They know that those kids are just as worthy as they are, they just haven't had as much luck."

Obama, who spoke at an Amazon.com distribution plant in Tennessee Tuesday, said that even kids who don't grow up in the White House have a distorted sense of wealth – a cultural shift, he said, from when he was young.

"If you look back on your childhood, or if I talk to my friends, all of us have that same impression when we go back home and we realize that the place where we were living was pretty small," he said. "These days people would say, 'How did you live in a place that small?' Well it didn't feel that small at the time. It was secure. It was stable."

A constant barrage of made-for-television wealth has changed what kids regard as normal lives, Obama said, so that traditional benchmarks of success – a home, job, education, health care, and retirement – are no longer deemed sufficient.

"There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous," he said. "Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Malory Archer

    it must be said

    I know if I had very poor relaitives and I was a millionaire like Obama, I would at least try to help them in some way.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    How do you know he doesn't?

    August 1, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. just askin

    Malory Archer - blah, blah, blah, bush.
    --–

    we are talking about obama corruption. please address that. so you are saying past corruption makes current corruption ok? i want the practice stopped no matter who is in the whitehouse. obama has abused it far more than anybody else. a trip here or there and nobody cares. but obama has spent 4.5 years campaigning and fund raising and almost no time governeing or doing the job. celebrity events, golf outings, vacations, vacations, seprate vacations. it is crazy how much tax payer money is being wasted while we have to go out and borrow it.

    August 1, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. Malory Archer

    Good Lord Hector Slagg, you need to get a clue! What you're seeing is an ADVERTISEMENT FOR A DOCUMENTARY about the former President. I could say more but no need.

    August 1, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Data Driven

    @just sayin,

    Perhaps you're right about Obama being "cheap cheap cheap" when it comes to his own money, but aren't we all? I don't think Obama deserves any particular criticism for not creating an entourage of cousins and uncles and aunts who follow him around everywhere. It's just petty. Conservatives will do better by offering reasoned critiques of his policies.

    REASONED critiques, let me repeat.

    August 1, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. it must be said

    Malory Archer
    it must be said
    I know if I had very poor relaitives and I was a millionaire like Obama, I would at least try to help them in some way.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    How do you know he doesn't?
    ----

    Because I'm sure it would be all over the Obama propaganda networks. And they all wouldn't still be poor now would they?

    August 1, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. Lisa P.

    just sayin

    why does obama have poor relatives? doesn't he know he is supposed to spread his wealth around and stop hoarding it? he is dragging down the obama family with his greed. what a horrible evil 1%er that is stealing from the rest of his family.
    August 1, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Great! Now how about saying that to the people who are *really* dragging down families with their greed - business owners who would rather cut their employees' hours, or fire employees, or simply close their (supposedly) successful businesses, rather than see their workers and their families get decent health insurance through Obamacare.

    When you are done with them you can start talking to the millionaires and billionaires who live off their investments (well, o.k. - not *their* investments - they hire someone to figure all that out for them) in companies that don't pay their hard-working go-getter employees enough to live on. Because that might cut into dividends for their lazy, layabout investors who had the good fortune to be born into wealth.

    After that you can give the President and First Lady a hard time about being successful through their own hard work and initiative (with, of course, the help of their parents and grandparents - the Obamas know first hand that no one succeeds solely through their own efforts; no one "builts it" all by themselves even though certain people like to pretend they did).

    August 1, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. lolo

    Boy the GOP farm really has selective memory. They need to be worrying about how the republicans are getting welfare subsidies for their farms, family and friends like Bachman and her husband. Subsidies from the government to pray the gay away anyone? Get real GOP, just admit your true feelings and you will be set free. Now you want Cruz to be president and he was born in Canada by an American mother, but no complaints from the peanut gallery. Anything will be better than the obstructionist party. 2014 can't get here fast enough. Wake up people, get your ID's and lets vote these GOP nuts out. We the people will show them who is running the show. Enough of them getting paid six figure salaries for nothing.

    August 1, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. Malory Archer

    just askin

    Malory Archer – blah, blah, blah, bush.
    ––

    we are talking about obama corruption. please address that. so you are saying past corruption makes current corruption ok? i want the practice stopped no matter who is in the whitehouse. obama has abused it far more than anybody else. a trip here or there and nobody cares. but obama has spent 4.5 years campaigning and fund raising and almost no time governeing or doing the job. celebrity events, golf outings, vacations, vacations, seprate vacations. it is crazy how much tax payer money is being wasted while we have to go out and borrow it.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    LOL! Your stale reichwing talking points have become tiresome. Isn't it time for your ilk to create some new ones? President Obama has worked harder than any President in recent history. That he can do so while also engaging in celebrity events, golf outings, vacations, vacations, seprate vacations is indicative of his multi-tasking capabilities. That being said, President Obama is doing no different that any other president in the lastfew decades, yet you and your ilk had NO problem with it prior to January 20, 2009. Why is that? Why indeed.....

    August 1, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    ... ... Positive in the sense of making an awareness of the out of control expansion of the size of government, which was pervasive in the GWB era and is on steroids now, ... ...
    -----------------------
    That is patently false. Annual speniding is not growing 7-0% every year like we saw under GWB. Spending is down, which means the growth of national debt is down. The current annual debt is projected to be half of what it was for GWB's last year. Numbers don't lie, Fair.

    On a different note, what is up with all of the criticism about Pres. Obama not providing some sort of financial assistance to poor relatives, when you have no proof besides the hive mind that he hasn't?

    August 1, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    must be said

    And they all wouldn't still be poor now would they?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    How do you know "all" of his relatives are "still" poor?

    August 1, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Romney is STILL NOT My Hero

    All of those hating on the president's wealth are the same ones that wanted to vote in Mr. R-Money himself.

    August 1, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Palin Power

    Sarah Palin and the Palin family are more grounded to reality and REAL America than the elitist Obama family. We need the Palin Family in the White House. They are a real American family.

    August 1, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I appreciate your answer Fair.
    I do not however agree that the government is on "steroids'. On the contrary, I believe that our current President has done and is doing his best to close down agencies that duplicate the efforts of other government agencies.
    Aside from the much needed Obamacare and the agencies put in place to implement it I fail to see what you're referring to.

    August 1, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Lisa P.

    it must be said

    I know if I had very poor relaitives and I was a millionaire like Obama, I would at least try to help them in some way. The word poor would never be used to describe them. Charity starts at home. Obama has had everything paid for him for years so he is doing nothing but packing money away in accounts. Isn't that hoarding according to you liberals in here?
    August 1, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    If you think a $2 million book deal makes anyone a permanent member of the upper crust these days then you truly have no conception of how much money the top 1% of the 1% actually control. $2 million is peanuts. President Obama is interested in keeping Sasha and Malia grounded in reality because there is no question that they both will have to work for a living, and need to make use of every advantage they've been given to make their way in the world, the same as their cousins. Who, for all we know, the President and First Lady are trying to help as well.

    August 1, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Fair is Fair

    "That is patently false. Annual speniding is not growing 7-0% every year like we saw under GWB. Spending is down, which means the growth of national debt is down. The current annual debt is projected to be half of what it was for GWB's last year. Numbers don't lie, Fair."
    ------–
    Government spending as a percentage of GDP is at an all-time high, BY FAR. Numbers don't lie, Rudy.

    August 1, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Joi Gibson

    My goodness, all the animosity toward this president is bordering on psychotic. He plainly is telling his children how blessed they are, to be grateful, and to be mindful of those who are less fortunate. Since when is that a bad message to pass on to your children. He and the First Lady worked extremely hard to accomplish the American dream. Any President lives on the taxpayers' dime so do not act as if this President is doing something egregious. It is a frivolous argument and makes the person spewing that argument seem intellectually dishonest.

    Way to go Mr. and Mrs. Obama!!!!!!

    August 1, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Thanks! And I'm H E L L on wheels too!
    -------------------------------------------------
    Of that there'e NO doubt!

    August 1, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Typing too fast: "There's NO doubt".

    August 1, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  19. Gunderson

    Ya Know Folks, Me no unhappy some rich. Heck old Gunderson rich himself. Spend Summers on French Rivera and Winter's in south Seas. Or is that on rock pile. Can never tell. You who are broke don't worry. You never get rich, ilke old Gunderson.

    August 1, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Name Uche Agonsi

    If Obama really wants to teach Malia & Sasha about poverty , let him allow them to spend their vacation at the slums of Lagos .

    August 1, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    "Aside from the much needed Obamacare and the agencies put in place to implement it I fail to see what you're referring to."
    -------–
    You refer to Obamacare as "much needed". On this point you and I will never agree. I work in the medical field. I see the pending disaster (NO, not from the pundits, but from the healthcare community up close and personal). The intention ob Obamacare to "bend the curve" on cost is diametrically opposite of what is going to happen. Why? A lot has to do with the dearth of physicians in the primary care fields, whether it be primary care physicians, general practitioners, or, especially in an aging population, geriatrics. Obamacare does nothing to address this problem. NOTHING. There was opportunity to encourage and incentivize physicians to go into these fields (simply by forgiveness or reduction of college loans in exchange for an X-year commitment in these areas from the student, just to name one). Just doing that ONE thing would have opened the doors of med school to those it was previously shut AND would have gone a long way to ease the primary care shortage. BUT NO. Like every other government program, it grew into an oversized, over regulated boondoggle that will do NOTHING to address root cause issues and be rife with "unintended consequences". Mark my words.

    August 1, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    ...The intention ob Obamacare to "bend the curve" on cost is diametrically opposite of what is going to happen. Why? A lot has to do with the dearth of physicians in the primary care fields, whether it be primary care physicians, general practitioners, or, especially in an aging population, geriatrics. Obamacare does nothing to address this problem. NOTHING. There was opportunity to encourage and incentivize physicians to go into these fields (simply by forgiveness or reduction of college loans in exchange for an X-year commitment in these areas from the student, just to name one). Just doing that ONE thing would have opened the doors of med school to those it was previously shut AND would have gone a long way to ease the primary care shortage. ...
    ---------------
    The shortage of medical professionals is remedied by investing in education, which Republicans have fought against. Remember?

    August 1, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Mikey

    @Fair is Fair
    --–
    Government spending as a percentage of GDP is at an all-time high, BY FAR. Numbers don't lie, Rudy.
    **********************************
    Completely wrong, but I am not surprised. Government spending in Bush's last budget was 24.3% of GDP. For the most recent fiscal year, it was 22.6%. 22.6% is less than 24.3%.

    August 1, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Let us both agree tha Obamacare does NOT address all of the issues it could've addressed when it was written.
    Let us for the sake of keeping this civil NOT discuss the reasons why.
    I will however say that something beats a blank and it is a start. Especially when that "something" effectivley addresses the elimination of lifetime caps by health insurance companies, and the ability of an insurance company turning down someone because they have a pre-existing condition. The fact that parents can keep their children on thei health insurance until age 26 is a nice little bonus as well.
    I don't profess to know or see into the future the "unintended consequences", after all those abound no matter what is implemented.
    I do however am thankful to our President for doing what many others wanted to do but would not for fear of the political AND monetary backing repercusions.
    Enjoyed our chat Fair.

    August 1, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Government spending as a percentage of GDP is at an all-time high, BY FAR. Numbers don't lie, Rudy."

    Sigh. Obama has kept the growth in gov't spending to its lowest levels in 40+ years. It has grown an average of 1.3% while he's been in office (as opposed to 7-8% under Reagan and Dubya)...and I'm pretty sure what Rudy meant to say is that the annual DEFICIT (not debt) is down to about half of what Dubya was causing. Focusing on the total amount of spending alone is myopic, narrow-minded and really pretty meaningless. It's like complaining that a city of several million like Chicago had a few hundred gun violence incidents when the rate of gun violence, and your chance of suffering from it, is still higher in entire southern states, like LA and MO. Raw numbers very rarely provide information that is all that useful, particularly when out of context.

    August 1, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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