Over The Top In The Oval Office

The men who have been president of this country have done some pretty stupid things in pursuit of the office or some initiative they’ve been pushing. President Obama pushed the boundaries of that Oval Office competition last week, when his BuzzFeed video, in which he mugged with a selfie stick and posed in a dirty bathroom mirror was released and quickly went viral.

To the people at Fox News, it went visceral.

On Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” host Heather Childers was heated up because this silly video was apparently produced on the same day as it was confirmed that U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller had been killed by ISIS/ISIL.  

But there was plenty of outrage on Fox, as there always is. If you sell hamburger for a living, you have to keep grinding beef.

Big dishes of Obama are served daily. 



About this latest “outrage,” honest to God, Fox guest Mary Katharine Ham said, verbatim, “I’m less concerned with the timing and more concerned with the sheer silliness of it. I mean, the selfie stick is widely recognized as the most undignified human creation of all time and that includes the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Vermont Teddy Bear in that tally.”

Sometimes, you watch stuff like that and you think, man, someday Jon Stewart’s writers can just phone it in.  

The thing is, as of Friday, that video had been seen 23 million times on Facebook, and the earned media, even for a president, was enormous.

It was created, ostensibly, to encourage young people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The deadline was Sunday, and as he did last year when he appeared on Funny or Die’s “Between the Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis, Obama has figured out he can reach online to get that message across. 

He also did that a month or so ago when he talked, live,  to YouTube stars to goose support for his state of the union proposals.

Though that produced its own headlines, I didn’t see one that underscored that the leader of the free world spent more than 45 minutes out of his day talking to three YouTube stars.

Tellingly, that production started with a little analysis of what questions viewers Googled when the president gave his State of the Union address just a couple days before.

First on the list: How old is Obama? And what topic was first?: College.

So regardless of what you think of a video that shows the president doodling artwork of his wife, or practicing saying “February”  or mocking himself and his critics with a cookie and a glass of milk, that stuff is designed for a young audience. And that’s what he got, along with all the rest of us mopes. It was way, way over the top. 

As visual media has morphed, what’s presidential has too, and not in pretty ways. That’s not going to change even if the next president is far more conservative than President Obama is. But the acting might get worse. I guess we’ll never see what bad ideas this president and others have turned down but while this video ends with the president explaining, “YOLO, man” the memory lives longer than that  That’s why a president who plays pretend in a bathroom mirror takes the just-folks thing veering toward parody.
1 comment about "Over The Top In The Oval Office".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 16, 2015 at 2:08 p.m.

    As Brian Williams found out, people's respect is something you only need to lose once.

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