Barack Obama on The View: He's that guy
By Alexandra Petri
Barack Obama is that guy.
You know the guy I mean. He’s the guy at the bar trying to shout substantive remarks about health-care reform over the pounding music. "This band is great!" you yell. "I think substantive cost savings over the next decade will bend the curve!" he yells back. He’s the guy who makes you change the channel from "True Blood" to C-SPAN because he can’t miss a second of that old gentleman who slowly reads things into the record. He’s the guy who shakes you awake at 2:00 a.m., shouting, "I’ve just had an insight into tax code reform!" That guy.
If you needed proof, look at his appearance on The View today. Call me a person who appreciates daytime television, but that was way, way too substantive.
Is this what the people want? I don’t. If my president goes on daytime television, he might at least act like he’s on daytime television. Daytime television is for throwing things, taking paternity tests, and finding out who wants to be a millionaire. It’s not for substantive discussion of jobs reform. Sure, The View isn’t Maury, or The Price is Right, but given Obama’s dismal performance, he’d probably do the same thing. "What’s the price of this toothpaste, as close as possible, without going over?" Drew Carey would ask. "The American economy is shrinking at 6.5 percent annually, which hasn’t happened since the Great Depression," President Obama would answer.
Oscar Wilde said that consistency was the last refuge of the unimaginative. President Obama is woefully consistent. He’s the same thoughtful, deliberate policy wonk we elected two years ago. We spent election year and the run-up to the inauguration becoming excited and telling him how cool he was. But, except for killing that fly, he’s about as cool as Al Gore after climate change. Every time he tries to make a joke, a minor crisis ensues.
Google "Barack Obama apologizes." Every result is some sort of joke that went horribly, horribly wrong. He made fun of Malia’s braces. He called his bowling "Special Olympics" and had to apologize to Tim Shriver of the Special Olympics. He joked about Nancy Reagan’s séances and had to apologize to Nancy Reagan.
He showed up on The View and tried to talk substantively about issues. They asked him about Mel Gibson. “Let me answer the Afghanistan question.”
No, President Obama. If you’re on The View, sharing a week with James Marsden and Fifty Cent and “Hot Topics,” you need to put everything down and give us the frivolous dish. Forget Iraq. What was it like when you met Justin Bieber?
For everyone who disagrees, just take a look at the coverage. The headlines that have emerged from this afternoon are not "Barack Obama hews closely to presidential topics, provides enlightening discussion of jobs." No! Mr. President, what’s on your iPod? What do you think about LiLo’s imprisonment? Do you know who Snooki is? These are the things we expect to find out from an appearance on The View. If he wants to discuss his jobs plan so much, he can go on Charlie Rose. If the people who watch The View wanted a substantive discussion of the war, racial attitudes, and the economy, they’d watch -- well, something else.
If he thought this would be a way of reaching out to people, relating to the daytime TV set, he was off. It was like watching Spock (no ear-related cracks intended) go to a midnight screening of Twilight and try to talk logically about issues.
No, no matter where he goes or how many times he meets Justin Bieber, Barack Obama is still going to be that guy. So instead of trying to be cool and "relate," he should embrace it. On The View, off The View, it’s like the saying goes, if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still not captivating television when that pig tries to talk to you about health-care reform.
| July 29, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
Categories: Petri | Tags: Alexandra Petri
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