The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

November 5, 2012

Marta Mossburg, columnist: Hey, Obama, this isn't 'American Idol'

Sometime in the past two months, Barack Obama forgot he was president and started campaigning for entertainer in chief.

Since September, he has visited comedians Jay Leno and David Letterman, talked with Jon Stewart of Comedy Central and Sway Calloway of MTV, and wedged himself on the couch between his wife Michelle and the women of “The View.” He also sat down for an easygoing exchange with new “Today” host Savannah Guthrie.

In addition, his campaign released this month an ad featuring Lena Dunham, creator of the hit HBO series “Girls,” comparing losing one’s virginity to voting for Barack Obama.

Dunham declares, “Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy … somebody who really cares about and understands women. A guy who cares about whether you get health insurance, specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge.”

The consequences of this election are huge, so huge, in fact, that the president only wants to discuss them on shows whose recent hot topics include “Chevy Chase’s use of the N-Word!” and “Is PMS a Myth?” and via a spokeswoman who is probably as well known naked as clothed. Republican challenger Mitt Romney has avoided late night and daytime talk shows for months.

Why? In the October issue of Vanity Fair one of the smartest men ever to be president, according to many of the elite media, told interviewer Michael Lewis that he only wears blue or gray suits because he doesn’t want to be debilitated by too many choices.

Maybe he doesn’t want the American public to suffer the same problem.

What other explanation could there be for the one-sided, lowbrow lineup? He thinks a lot of people are dumb, for one. Specifically, he thinks those who haven’t made up their minds about the candidates — allegedly about 3 to 5 percent of voters in this election — are missing a few tools in the toolshed.

 As Michelle Cottle wrote in The Daily Beast in September, “Ask the political scientists, pollsters and other professional analyzers of the electorate who parse these sorts of things. They will tell you … that undecideds or swing voters or whatever you want to call them tend to be low-information folks who cast their ballots based on whichever candidate gives them the last-minute warm and fuzzies.”

Where does he think he can reach the “low-information” crowd — aka those who haven’t gone to college and apparently don’t like to do their homework on candidates: talk shows.

Given how tight polls show the election to be, winning over that group of people may be key to another Obama victory. But at what cost to him and to the nation?

Isn’t it the job of the president to help sort out for Americans what is important and what is trifling? When the president only talks to comedians and weighs in on a fight between “American Idol” judges, as Mr. Obama did recently, doesn’t it cheapen the office and suggest national affairs rank below entertainment?

So-called decision fatigue, which Obama addressed in regard to suit colors, is real. Too many choices in a given day make it harder to make good judgments on big questions, which is why it is so important to focus time and energy on things that matter.

If President Obama’s interviewers on late night and daytime talk had used the opportunity to push him on issues and followed up on questions he chose not to answer, those time slots wouldn’t have been so damning. But they didn’t, and he obliged.

As liberal TV critic David Zurawik wrote of the Leno interview, “North Korean TV might want to study this tape as a less heavy-handed way of convincing the populace of the glory of the leader.”

America suffers from crippling debt, a stagnating economy and an entitlement crisis, not a lack of late night jokes. If we are to start tackling those issues, it will not happen by pandering to our baser instincts.

Marta H. Mossburg writes about national affairs and politics in Maryland, where she lives. Read her work at www.martamossburg.com. Write her at marta@martamossburg.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Our View.jpg Our View: Too many questions on No. 5

    Even though the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” Missouri voters on Aug. 5 are being asked to consider an amendment that restates that freedom and then goes even further.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: Beware the wolf

    The wolf (the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other radical animal rights organizations) has conned Little Red Riding Hood (the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, The Joplin Globe editorial staff and, as of last week, the local Democratic leadership).

    July 31, 2014

  • Your View: Dally for Division 5

    I have known Nate Dally almost my entire life. As we grew up, Nate always had a strong passion and desire to make sure everyone was treated fairly and equally.

    July 31, 2014

  • Your View: Vote ‘no’ on 7

    The Globe has been on my reading list for over 35 years, and during that time the Globe has frequently supported tax increases. Same thing again in the Sunday, July 27, editorial, “‘Yes’ on 7.”

    July 31, 2014

  • Geoff Caldwell, columnist: An America transformed

    On Oct. 30, 2008, Barack Obama boldly declared: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

    July 30, 2014

  • Other Views Other Views: Open the primaries

    Missourians will go to the polls in the Aug. 5 primary.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your View: ‘Right to Farm’ is wrong

    On Aug. 5, voters will be asked to make a decision about Amendment 1.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: No on Amendment 7

    The Missouri Department of Transportation is wanting more money through a three-quarter-cent addition to the sales tax. Consider one example of how it spends your money.

    July 29, 2014

  • Your View: Bad way to get revenue

    I received two fliers through the mail today asking me to vote “yes” on Amendment 7, which would add a three-quarter-cent tax to Missouri’s sales tax to help maintain roads and bridges.

    July 29, 2014

  • Our View.jpg Our View: No need for No. 9

    “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended so that the people shall be secure in their electronic communications and data from unreasonable searches and seizures as they are now likewise secure in their persons, homes, papers and effects?”

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Local News
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

How do you plan to vote on Missouri's Amendment 5 on the Aug. 5 ballot?

A. For it.
B. Against it.
     View Results
Facebook
NDN Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Sports