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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.

By Alexandra Petri  | July 29, 2010; 5:29 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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As one of 'those guys' I just wish he'd support policies that create more jobs.

Posted by: slatt321 | July 29, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? I'm not sure where you're coming from. Obama's strength has always been in his ability to perk the ears of people who would otherwise be apathetic or cynical about politics. And that's exactly what he was trying to do here. The guy showed how incredibly articulate and highly likable he can be. Even the people looking to avoid the "substantive" stuff would have enjoyed the mixed bag of "snooki" and employment statistics. Not many presidents that I can remember would have been able to do that....

Posted by: slimbibbly | July 29, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

This is a public service announcement
Don't waste your valuable time reading this article.

Posted by: uniteusnow | July 29, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

petri dishes lives on! love it!

Posted by: abcxyz4 | July 29, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow, this article is stupid. It is trying soooo hard to find reasons to bash Obama. Nothing informative came from it, and it's most blatant bias left a bitter taste in my mouth. I see at the top that this was an opinion piece, but come on....really?? Even for an opinion piece it lacks substance.

Posted by: Bkp1685 | July 29, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama on The View was cute but wouldn't it serve us all better if he'd hold a Press Conference. Isn't that what Presidents do?

Posted by: Jimpol | July 30, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Since he is a dismal failure as president, he might have finally found something that he can do, smooze with the the ladies.

Posted by: Incredulous52 | July 30, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

..."For everyone who disagrees, just take a look at the coverage. The headlines that have emerged from this afternoon..."


2. OBAMA ON THE VIEW: IT'S A NON-STORY. USE SOME REAL RAGE AND WRITE SOMETHING INTELLIGENT/INSIGHTFUL IN SUPPORT OF LOST BUSINESSES IN THE GULF, ENDANGERED SOLDIERS DUE TO WIKILEAKS, JOBS, EDUCATION, THE ECONOMY...oh wait. he had to go on a daytime talk show to find a FORUM for those subjects, because all you fake journalists are so breathlessly accusing him of wasting the country's time.

Posted by: bozofish | July 30, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

I think a right wing Republican columnist at the Washington Post (what a surprise) lecturing the President about how to be vapid and substanceless enough for daytime gossip TV is just about the perfect matching of a person to a task.

Posted by: BillEPilgrim | July 30, 2010 2:45 AM | Report abuse

They fired Dave Weigel and kept you? Really? Really???

Posted by: kejia32 | July 30, 2010 5:59 AM | Report abuse

"If my president goes on daytime television, he might at least act like he’s on daytime television."

How about, "If daytime television has my President on, he might at least act like a President." For example, he might want to try not to refer to himself and other blacks as "mongrels" or suggest that everyone succumbs to the "reptilian" part of their brain when seeing someone who "looks different than they do." Projection, anyone?

2012, and the Great "I Won" is Done.

Posted by: RedderThanEver | July 30, 2010 6:38 AM | Report abuse

He's the *President*, not a reporter on ET.

I don't know where this idea came from that the president should be someone we want to drink beer with. That's how Bush got elected, and clearly that worked out well...

Posted by: ostiarius | July 30, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Scar1 | July 30, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

He's no that guy, hes the guy that's in way over his head and how no substance. Would you ever see Bush or Clinton doing something so pop-culture, shallow vapid as this? I can't wait until 2012 when we can get over the idea that we elected a black president (pat yourself on the back if you voted for Obama, you're not a racist) and return to picking presidents on merit.

Posted by: fakedude1 | July 30, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

What next?

Will Obama take a cameo role in an afternoon soap to discuss the US debt and deficit?

How embarassing he is - not even mediocre but bad for the country.

Look what he has singlehandedly done to race relations.

No wonder the rest of the world doesn't respect us!

Posted by: mlemac | July 30, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

He should man up and give real press conferences and sit for interviews with journalists who ask real questions and are not members of his fan club. He also should seek some psychiatrists (I think he needs a team of them working around the clock in Vienna) who can advise him on getting over his inability to deal with even the most minor criticism. Is he that clueless that he did not know that presidents have to deal with criticism

Posted by: jbb34 | July 30, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

In the words of HL Mencken, “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” Are we there yet?

Posted by: commentnow | July 30, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Can you imagine what this moron would have to say if Obama had been invited by Oprah and refused to accept the invitation. Headline, "Obama lacks nerve to respond to public invitation". Morons shall remain morons, no matter the occasion.

Posted by: merhoff | July 30, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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