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Never one to miss an opportunity to pass judgment on someone else’s private affairs, earlier this week Rick Santorum informed President Barack Obama that he ought to “set an example” when it comes to where his oldest daughter travels. Speaking with Glenn Beck on his radio show, the former Pennsylvania senator was asked whether or not his 13-year-old daughter, Malia, should’ve been allowed to travel to Mexico with her friends for vacation despite a State Department travel warning for the country.

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Santorum said:

“If the administration is saying that it’s not safe to have people down there, then just because you can send 25 Secret Service agents doesn’t mean you should do it. You should set an example.”

Saint Santorum followed up this comment by noting that he wasn’t judging Malia, but wanted to speak on her father’s “higher duty.” For the record, the area in which Malia and her friends traveled – Oaxaca – had no specific travel warning.

In response to those remarks, Stephanie Cutter, deputy Obama campaign manager, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “I think that children, for candidate purposes, have always been off-limits in presidential campaigns, and really any campaign. She added, “I’m surprised that Rick Santorum wouldn’t agree with that.”

Such is a reality of today’s increasingly heated political climate, but the Obama campaign ought to continue prepping for the worst as the worse characters of the right are itching to get increasingly personal in their criticism of the president. Enter insulter extraordinary Ann Coulter, who just this week told FOX News host Sean Hannity, “Maybe it’s time for the conservatives to go after the Obama children.”

She made the comment “in jest” while referencing “liberal hate speech” and apparent “hypocrisies” surrounding other bankable bigot Rush Limbaugh and the likes of Bill Maher, whom Hannity claims is wrong to use the word “c*nt” to describe other conservatives and insult children of GOP candidates. Coulter claims that such behavior is typical of liberals and that children of Republican politicians have always been abused – hence the declaration, “Maybe it’s time to imitate liberals in another way and go after the Obama children.”

If your eye started to twitch upon reading the accusation that GOP families have just been so abused and Democratic ones have been given the utmost respect, congratulations, you spotted the fallacy. It’s not the first time Coulter has conveniently forgotten how despicable her conservative brethren have been toward the other side. In the 2008 presidential campaign, Coulter spoke out against criticism toward Sarah Palin’s daughter by alleging that “people didn’t go after Chelsea Clinton.”

They did. Who doesn’t remember the time a then 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton was compared to the White House dog? Sen. John McCain also joined in on the despicable “Chelsea-is-ugly” narrative.

Unpopular opinion as it might be, there is reason on some occasion to bring up a candidate’s family. How about when Sarah Palin advocated abstinence-only centered sex education and her child turned up pregnant at 17 or former Vice President Dick Cheney supporting anti-gay rights initiatives despite having a lesbian daughter of his own.

While such criticism needs to be handled with care, it’s not wrong when placed in its proper context. That cannot be said of what Santorum said about President Obama’s daughter and especially not for Ann Coulter’s irresponsible remarks to Sean Hannity. Until the president does give critics a genuine reason to point out how his professional life conflicts with his personal one, members of the right need to shut up and leave his children alone.


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Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer currently based in Los Angeles. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick