The President On The View

Tomorrow President Obama will be taping an appearance on The View that will be aired ThursdayThe View is an ABC-TV morning show that features a number of women sitting around, talking.  The View is predictably touting the President’s appearance as legitimizing the show; Barbara Walters, one of show’s hosts, says that the President’s appearance means that the show is recognized as “an influential and important source of information and news.”

I recognize that politicians these days will grab just about any opportunity to appear before an audience.  President Obama already has broken new ground in that regard by appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  I’m sure that The View is considered a safe, controlled environment for such an appearance, too.  The President can sit, relax, and drink coffee out of a mug with The View logo on it, chat with the star-struck hosts while getting out all of his talking points, and amiably answer a few softball questions. Maybe his appearance will help his approval ratings among the show’s viewers.

Still, a sitting President appearing on The View seems jarring to me, like a line is being crossed between seriousness and celebrity.  It seems inconsistent with the dignity of the office for the President to show up on daytime TV, chuckling at one of the host’s scripted lines.  I’m left with the same, inescapable thought:  doesn’t the President have other, more important things to do?  If The View is an acceptable forum for a presidential appearance, where is the line now being drawn?

The Risk Of Overexposure

The Risk Of Overexposure (II)

The View

One morning when we were down in the Bahamas, after having eaten one of Laura’s very fine breakfasts, we watched a bit of The View. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that show.

During the roundtable discussion we watched, Barbara Walters made a comment criticizing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Governor Palin had reacted negatively to President Obama’s ill-considered remark about the Special Olympics during his appearance on The Tonight Show, and Barbara Walters faulted Governor Palin for being too quick to criticize the President. In short, the President said something insensitive, and people who comment about it are the ones who get admonished! Although the four of us occupy different points on the political spectrum, we all agreed that Barbara Walters’ observation aptly illustrates how many members of the “mainstream media” are wholeheartedly riding the Obama bandwagon. In this era of political correctness, is there any other politician who could make an insensitive remark and be defended from criticism about it?

I think this kind of evident bias will not be good for the President in the long run for at least two reasons. First, eventually everyone will get fed up with it and begin to attribute every positive comment about the President or his policies to bias rather than objective consideration. Second, it isn’t good for us to have a President who isn’t used to being harshly criticized. Although many members of the news media may treat the President with kid gloves, foreign leaders and the foreign media clearly won’t. If there is any good thing about the American process for picking a President (and there aren’t many) it is that anyone who makes it through that process is toughened up and becomes used to criticism. Unfortunately, I think President Obama missed some of that toughening up process. It’s too bad, because we need tough Presidents who know the press is going to jump on any mistake — not Presidents who are used to having the news media make excuses for them.