Dogs are hard, especially if you haven't had one before.
And I think the Obama's have gone the right route -- though I rarely suggest dogs as gifts even if Ted Kennedy wants to give you one. Well, especially if Ted Kennedy wants to give you a dog, but at least he didn't offer to drive anyone anywhere.
Now the Obama's are not going to experience a dog the way most people experience dogs. There is a White House kennel and there is a White House dog walker. So they might go weeks without being around the dog.
But rescues are hard. I've had three bad rescues in a row, and I don't recommend a rescue for a first time dog owner. One drove everyone in the household nuts, especially the existing dog and was returned. One died of parvo, like Ophra just went through and the last one is still here, though that status could change. I will say that she is infinitly easier to live with since we put her on Xanax. We even got through last night's thunderstorms without her disturbing the humans.
If you have a child that has allergies to dogs, you have to be even more careful. Getting a PWD, and bringing it into the house for a meeting in advance was a super idea.
Getting an older dog that already had tried a home was also a great idea. The breeder, Kennedy and the Obamas should have an idea why the dog failed from the first home and should have a better idea on whether the dog is going to fit or not.
All in all, I think they made a good decision.