President Obama revealed his most treasured fringe benefit of the White House on Monday, declaring during a speech that “one of the best perks about being president is anyone will hand you their baby.”
Obama made the remarks while pushing an unspecified government-run system paying new parents — particularly mothers — to take time off after the birth of a child.
Many Western nations offer government programs or mandates designed to support new parents during this period, and Obama noted during the speech that, “If France can figure this out, we can figure this out.”
But the president seemed intent on making the argument at a personal as well as policy level.
“People ask me what do I love most about being president,” he told an adoring audience. “And it’s true, Air Force One is on the list. The Truman Balcony has a really nice view. But one of the best perks about being president is anybody will hand you their baby.”
The crowd laughed uproariously as Obama continued. “So I get this baby fix, like, two or three times a week,” the president cracked. “But the reason it’s so powerful is because I remember taking the night shift when Malia was born and when Sasha was born, and being up at 2:00 in the morning and changing diapers and burping them and, uh . . . and singing to them and reading them stories.”
“And watching SportsCenter once in a while,” he jokingly went on. “Which I thought was good for their development. It was. We want them to be well-rounded.”
“But the point is, I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off so that I was there for the 2 AM feeding and the soothing and just getting to know them and making sure that they knew me,” President Obama continued. “And I want every father and every child to have that opportunity. But that requires a society that makes it easier for us to give folks that opportunity.”