President Obama is taking some heat today for his decision to appear alongside Zach Galifianakis on his mock public access interview show Between Two Ferns. The segment, which went live on the Funny Or Die site last night, runs a little over six minutes in length, and includes a number of cutting exchanges between the two men on everything from the comedian’s waning box office bankability to the President’s country of origin.
[The line that's getting the most attention today seems to be, "How does it feel to be the last black President," but I prefer the exchange where Galifianakis asks the America-hating Obama which country he rooted for during the recent Olympics.]
While I certainly have issues with the President, and was none too happy about the joking references to drone strikes and domestic spying, I have to say that it was a brilliant move on Obama’s part. If the Affordable Care Act is to be sustainable in the long term, we need to get young people to visit the HealthCare.gov site and sign up for coverage, and this appearance alongside Galifianakis gave him the platform he needed to reach that population. And, all signs are that it worked. As of today, 4.2 million have registered for health care through the federal marketplace, which is still below what the White House had been shooting for, but, according to White House Senior Communications Advisor Tara McGuinness, the Between Two Ferns segment is now driving more people to the site than anything else.
And people on the right, as you might expect, are up in arms… Before we get to that, though, here’s the segment.
Upon seeing the interview, Representative Randy Weber of Texas took to Twitter and said the following: “Instead of wasting time with a parody interview, he should be focusing on finding answers re: #Benghazi.” Most on the right, though, from what I can tell, were just content with calling it “un-presidential.” (I would think that, by definition, anything a President does would be presidential, but guess some interpret the English language differently.) If you have the stomach for it, check out the comments on Glenn Beck’s site, where a lot of people are talking about how this President has “diminished the Executive office.”
This is actually the second time in the past few weeks that I’ve heard someone observe that Obama has “diminished” the office of President. The last time was about two weeks ago, when I was visiting my extended family in Kentucky. At some point during our stay, I found myself in a room with an older male relative when a story came on the television about Obama’s appearance in a video promoting his wife’s Let’s Move campaign, which is aimed and increasing physical activity, especially among America’s young. In the video, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are seen leaving the Oval Office and going for a run together. It’s a corny little piece, but, given the costs associated with obesity in America, I didn’t react negatively. This relative of mine, however, snorted and dropped the “diminishing the Executive” line… Apparently, it would seem, it’s beyond the pale for a a President of the United States to jog.
I’ve yet to send it, but I made the following image for said relative.
That’s Obama in the bottom right… He’s the one next to Biden, in THE FUCKING SUIT!
Yeah, I should have mentioned that. This relative of mine was upset that Obama was essentially walking fast in a suit. It’s not like he was dressed like Richard Simmons, dripping sweat, and collapsing into the arms of the Secret Service. HE WAS WEARING A FUCKING SUIT.
Obama, I imagine, had to wear a suit because he knew that the insane Republicans out there, if he were wearing anything less, would question his ability to serve as President. Apparently, however, the criticism came anyway. It didn’t matter that he was wearing a tie, or that we’ve had jogging Commander-in-Chiefs for as long as I can remember. And, if you want to talk about demeaning the office, just look at Reagan up there, sharing his exercise routine on the pages of Parade magazine. But, when Obama walks fast IN A FUCKING SUIT, it leads to conversations about him disrespecting the office the office of President. And the same goes for Obama’s appearance with Galifianakis. It’s as though people don’t remember, or don’t care to remember, Clinton playing saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show or Nixon saying “sock it to me” on Laugh-In. The truth is, all of this has been done before, just not by a black Democrat. And that, I think, is the point where we lose our minds. It’s one thing to have the strong and fatherly Ronald Reagan lifting weights, but it’s another to have a black “community organizer” running on the grounds of the White House. That’s just disrespectful.
[note: For what it's worth, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked today whether or not Obama's appearance with Galifianakis "damaged the dignity of the office." His response... and emphatic "No."]