And Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were extremely protective of Chelsea, who entered the White House at an awkward stage. Her parents were furious when Mike Myers referred to their daughter in an insulting way on "Saturday Night Live"; the comic later apologized.
Whereas many White House children through history seem to suffer some sort of embarrassment or scandal, the Obama girls have had none.
"Compared to other White House families, this is clearly the most functional," says Wead, who chronicles a host of misfortunes of past White House kids in his book. (He's now working on a book about White House siblings.) "This has been one of the most successful stories."
McBride, who now directs programming on the history of first ladies at American University, says that no matter your politics, it's comforting to see a happy first family.
"Whether you support this president or not, you want to know that it's healthy and grounding and going well at home," she says. "They clearly are a family that's got it together."
The Obamas certainly relish spending time with their kids. The first family is well known to have dinner together in the White House most nights; Michelle Obama in her convention speech evoked the image of the family "strategizing about middle-school friendships."
That will likely help the president avoid some of the guilt that, Wead says, has afflicted some presidents of the past who spent little time with their offspring — like that which he says overcame Ulysses S.
Grant on the occasion of his daughter's White House wedding. She left on her honeymoon, and Wead says the president then collapsed on her bed and wept.
"He had been so busy as president that he felt he had missed her life," Wead says. "It all had happened too fast for him."
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