President Obama thinks he has a fool-proof system in place to prevent his daughters from rebelling against their parents' authority. Yes, the First Dad thinks he knows how to stop the First Daughters from getting tattoos... by getting his own, and taking it viral. But if history has taught us anything, kids are always going to find a way to screw over their folks.
This is Obama's big plan: If 14-year-old Malia or 11-year-old Sasha go for the ink, then Barack and Michelle wil get identical tattoos themselves. And they'll have to show the tattoos to the whole world on video. Or at least that's what the president said on the Today show today: "What we've said to the girls is, 'If you guys ever decided you're going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo in the same place. And we'll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo," Obama told Savannah Guthrie. "And our thinking is that might dissuade them from thinking that somehow that’s a good way to rebel."
All for one, one for all, and all over the Internet — sounds like a smart parenting threat, especially from inside an administration that uses social media as "steroids" for message control, or at least that's what Politico claimed the other week. But seriously, who wants parents with butterfly tattoos above their ankles? And that YouTube clause, well, that's a surefire way to keep Malia's maybe-boyfriend at Sidwell Friends from ending up as an ex-boyfriend with his name draped across four powerful biceps a couple years from now.
But these are young women who take cellphone photos and, yes, go on spring break. You don't stop them. You can only hope to contain them. They don't care what their parents think — no teenager really does, no matter how big the spotlight, and, hey, there are always sleeves for all the photo-ops to come in the second term. To that end, Sasha and Malia are currently too young to get tattoos on their own — they'll need their parents' permission until they're 18 years old. And while they've got that permission, they're not about to give in to some embarrassing ultimatum from a fluffy morning talk show interview. Indeed, no matter how charming and intelligent these two may seem, they may be headed for troublesome teenagedom — or at least the awkward Chelsea phase — just as a Bush daughter is climbing out of it. Soon enough, the First Daughters might be talking back to the most powerful man in the world even more than said powerful man jokes about on the stump; soon enough, Secret Service willing, one of them might call dad's bluff. Here's how the Obama tattoo dilemma might play out. Emphasis on the might.
The 'You Suck, Dad' Option
@lindseyweber uh, I would just get a tattoo that says “Barack Obama stinks”?— Brian Feldman (@BAFeldman) April 24, 2013
This would be an instant classic — and no doubt endear the younger Obamas to legions on the right. Of course, Malia would no doubt come to regret it down the line when she's in college and needs a couple of extra dollars on a Friday evening to afford drinks and after-bar pizza. "Hey, remember when you made me get a tattoo saying I stink? You can stay home and study." That's a tought argument to rebut when you want to go dancing.
The Classic Tramp Stamp
I'm very displeased that Obama made me picture him with a tramp stamp. wapo.st/10d3dbS— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) April 24, 2013
Oh, to be a dad in the early part of the 2000s must have been awful, when what's commonly referred to now as the "tramp stamp" was really blossoming in popularity. Did it have something to do with Tara Reid? Historians will sort it out eventually. Anyway, a tramp stamp is a tattoo on the small of a girl's back, thought to signify that she's a willing tonsil hockey partner. It is not meant to be seen completely. The idea is that it peaks out between the hem of your shirt and the waist of your lowrise jeans. Something tells us both Malia and Sasha are just generally above this.
The Tyson Option
The problem with Obama's plan is that it can't deal with the kids playing tattoo-chicken and getting, say, a crazy face tattoo.— Christopher Bird (@mightygodking) April 24, 2013
Or, you know, they could go in a completely different direction and get a face tattoo, not unlike former world Heavyweight champion boxer and Hangover star Mike Tyson, or rapper and Spring Breakers star Gucci Mane. (Make of that connection what you will.) The only other face tattoo sporters we can think of are convicted killers who get tear drops signifying the number of people they've killed as a warning to other prison inmates. But this is an option; yes, it's certainly a thing they could do. Emphasis on the could. But ice cream cones and tribal tats are, shall we say, passé — and, well, they're hip teenage girls, so tear drops are out, too. May we suggest the likeness of a One Directioners on one cheek? Or how about an eagle just above the right eye? Those could all work, right? An eagle would be very patriotic. How could the First Dad say no?
The 'Obama 2008-2016' Option
A relatively reasonable suggestion from over at the Washington Post: The First Family could all get tattoos celebrating Obama's time in office, as documented here. We think that's a pretty great idea. It's heartwarming and brings a family together.
But if any of these ideas are just downright too terrible (and we suspect all of them are), then President Obama has this authority, this veto power, and he could always break that out to tell Malia and Sasha, No, we are not getting family face tattoos. Now go to your room. It's a big room, Mr. President, but it gets a lot smaller when you push your daughter to bring a boy back into it. Just saying.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.