President Obama and Why Cool Politicians Don’t Do Television
Republicans complain that President Obama is a celebrity president (in a bad way) because he’s been on a lot of television shows recently. Democrats pretend that Obama is a cool president (in a good way) because he’s been on a lot of television shows recently. Republicans and Democrats disagree on a lot of things, including the positive and negative connotations of the words “celebrity” and “cool.”
Republicans are right that the Obamas have been on way too many shows in the last few weeks. I won’t even bother to list them because then I’d have to do research that would be boring. “Hope and change” wasn’t supposed to mean, “I hope the Obamas aren’t on my favorite show because if they are I’ll change the channel.”
Obama can’t be blamed for wanting to make television appearances. In the old days (before cable), all a president had to do to get on television was to call a press conference. The three networks would preempt their shows, and anybody who wanted to watch television that night had to watch the president. It didn’t matter if the president was boring; everyone had to watch. With cable and the internet, only a wonk is going to watch, so a president has to work harder to get noticed.
The first celebrity president was Bill Clinton when (as a candidate) he played saxophone on Arsenio Hall (yeah, I know, the idea of Arsenio Hall with a talk show is weird, but it happened). The first George Bush would never have done something like that (though he did sky dive, and that is way cooler than playing saxophone, but faux cool people won’t admit it). Now every politician that wants to be successful at the national level is expected to make talk show appearances. And they always suck.
Political appearances on television shows suck because they’re boring. But then again, so is President Obama. Supporters might claim that Obama’s on television so much because he’s cool, but that’s not true. President Obama is on television so much because he’s boring. He needs a celebrity around him to make him interesting. He needs a celebrity to dance with him. He needs a slow jam to keep the audience from nodding off.
I’ve listened to many (too many) Obama speeches over the last few years, and I can’t remember a thing he’s said. Maybe he told students to work hard in school a few times.
President Obama is so boring that he wrote about eating a dog in one of his memoirs, and it took almost twenty years for anybody to notice.
President Obama even made Mythbusters boring. He called them to the Oval Office and then asked them to look into something silly like Archimedes setting ships on fire. Are you serious? He should have asked them to look into his birth certificate. At least that wouldn’t have been boring.
Republicans claim there’s a double standard when it comes to Hollywood and television talk shows, and they may be right. When Michelle Bachmann went on Jimmy Fallon, the band played vulgar ska to insult her without her knowing it at the time. Some Republicans were upset, but they don’t realize that vulgar ska is way cooler than a slow jam. If I ever become a politician and go on a talk show (doubtful, because I shame way too easily), I want the show’s band to play vulgar ska as I step onto the stage.
Having a president (or any politician) on talk shows was a fresh idea in the 1990’s (kind of like using “fresh” as an adjective to describe something new was fresh in the 1990’s), but it’s a bit stale now. And people who say that Obama is cool because he goes on television shows are being disingenuous.
Internet videos? Now those are fresh. If Democrats could release a YouTube video of Obama hitting John Boehner in the nuts with an errant golf swing, I’d watch that over and over, no matter what stupid ad hominem attack slogan accompanied it.
Going on television show after television show? That gets old, and it isn’t cool.
Watching a politician get hit in the nuts with an errant golf swing? That would never get old, and it’s always cool.