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It's Malia Obama's birthday! Where's the party?

Today the eldest First Daughter turns 14. But it's not easy sharing a birthday with the United States.

By / July 4, 2012

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Sasha, front right, and Malia back right, walk off Air Force One after arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, June 15. Today is Malia's fourteenth birthday.

Paul Beaty/AP

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Washington

Today, July fourth, is Malia Obama’s birthday. Yes, we know – it’s hard to believe that she’s turning 14. It seems like only yesterday that she wasn’t much taller than Bo the First Dog when they went on Rose Garden walks.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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Well, maybe she was always a bit taller than that given that now she’s almost the same height as her Dad. But the big question is party, as in, will she get a birthday celebration or not?

Probably. The White House isn’t saying, since they don’t comment on First Daughter activities.  But Malia, sister Sasha, and mom and Dad spent a long weekend at Camp David, returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue only this morning. It’s quite possible the weekend featured personal festivities, including presents (iPad? Jewelry? Clothing as stylish as her mom’s?).

The Obamas do believe in birthday parties, after all. Earlier this year Sasha, whose birthday is in June, got an 11th birthday fete at a Red Robin restaurant in suburban Virginia. Ten friends – plus Malia and Michelle Obama – participated.

Last June, Sasha, friends, and a passel of pink balloons had a celebration at Georgetown Cupcake, a well-known DC sugar emporium. You could tell something was up due to the presence of casually dressed Secret Service agents loitering in front of the store.

Of course, older sister Malia’s problem is that her birthday falls on the birthday of the country. People born on other big holidays – December 25th comes to mind – know the feeling. On the one hand, people forget it’s your day, too. On the other, you can pretend that all the hoopla is personal.

So in that sense Malia is participating in a big party, bigger than any Sasha has yet received. Plus, it will be televised.

That’s because President Obama is hosting an annual USO concert and salute to the US military tonight on the White House grounds. The headliner is country star Brad Paisley. There will also be a barbecue, games, a set from the Marine Band, and a great view of the Washington fireworks.

The whole thing is being streamed live from the White House website.

So now that she’s 14, will Malia go on the stump and campaign for her father’s reelection? We doubt it, but she and her sister are beginning to appear in Obama reelection ads.

That’s because both they and their mother rate high in public esteem. Michelle Obama’s favorable scores surpass her husband’s. There aren’t many polls that touch on Sasha and Malia, but one 2009 survey from Public Policy Polling found that 54 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the girls. Only five percent had an unfavorable opinion.

For the Obama camp the point is not to highlight the girls per se, but to highlight the president’s role as a family man. Michelle Obama has begun to use social media, including her Facebook and Pinterest accounts, to post pictures and reminiscences of the family, which are then widely reposted by fans.

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