44: The Obama Presidency

At the Corporate Voices for Working Families event, Michelle Obama sits with Jeanette Rivera Boria, who spoke of working while caring for her sick mother.
At the Corporate Voices for Working Families event, Michelle Obama sits with Jeanette Rivera Boria, who spoke of working while caring for her sick mother. (By J. Scott Applewhite -- Associated Press)

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Friday, May 8, 2009

DAY OF PRAYER

Dobson Expresses Disappointment

Founder of Focus on the Family and evangelical author James Dobson said Thursday that he was "disappointed" that for the first time in nearly two decades, there was no representative from the White House during the National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill.

"I have not asked to meet with the president, and certainly he has not asked to meet with me, but I would just like this country to remember its foundation, to remember its heritage and honor it, especially on the day set aside by George Washington in the beginning for prayer in this country," he said. "And I would hope that that would have occurred."

Dobson and his wife, Shirley, were organizers of a three-hour program marking the day designated by Congress as a day of prayer, which brought together members of Congress, military leaders, ministers and an NFL star.

Very few ranking Democrats from the House or Senate attended the bipartisan event, giving a partisan tinge to the news conference that followed it.

"The National Day of Prayer is important for people all across the country, and I think the president missed a wonderful opportunity," said Rep J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), the chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who also expressed his disappointment with the White House.

The White House released a proclamation from the president about the day, asking Americans to come together in the "spirit of unity and reflection." The White House did not directly address Dobson's comments. However, a White House source with direct knowledge of the situation said event organizers placed restrictions on potential speakers, saying that they had to be "pro-life" and that the only person officially invited from the administration was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a Republican.

-- Hamil R. Harris

WORKING FAMILIES

First Lady Says She Is 'Blessed'

First lady Michelle Obama called her "current life" in the White House "a very blessed situation, because I have what most families don't have: tons of support all around, not just my mother, but staff and administration. I have a chief of staff and a personal assistant, and everyone needs that."

"Everyone should have a chief of staff and a set of personal assistants," Obama said with a laugh before a group of business executives at a Corporate Voices for Working Families conference Thursday at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.

Along with the issues of community service and military families, Obama has said that as first lady she wants to focus on the struggles of working families.

During her 10-minute speech, Obama advocated for sick leave for parents, flexible work hours for employees and on-site child care, which she said "is something that keeps many of us up at night."

She called herself someone who strives to do more than 100 percent at work, which brings its own challenges when trying to balance career and family.

"If people here are like me -- I call myself a 120-percenter. If I'm not doing any job at 120 percent, I think I'm failing. So if you're trying to do that at home and at work, you find it very difficult and stressful and frustrating."

-- DeNeen L. Brown


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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