July 30, 2010

Obama Shares His Views

Yesterday Barack Obama appeared in a daytime talk-show, The View, a first in television history for a sitting US President. Prior to the airing, there were some preoccupation in the show’s production.

Will Obama be centered among the hosts panel at the show’s signature desk set or will he be in the couch set?
Answer: The couch with a quip from the 6 ft 1” Obama that the sofa (with a low recline) was more comfortable for little people.

How long will the interview be? Will it be the longest in The View’s history? Answer: the whole one-hour show minus the commercial breaks.

Will the conservative host Ms. Elisabeth Hasselbeck who has been unwaveringly vocal and vociferous in her anti-Obama cries be circumspect in her questions?
Answer: She was honing for a See I told you so with her questions, about country unity and unemployment, notably without any address of Mr. President or Sir.

What sort of non-policy questions will arise?
Answer: Does Obama know Snooki (No) to Lindsay Lohan’s jail sentence (Yes)? Does Mel Gibson’s need anger management? (A dodge)

Will the audience be allowed to ask the President?
Answer: None on what was edited for broadcast.

There was a refreshing and gentle quality in the way the President was quizzed on racial relations, Afghanistan, and the Shirley Sherrod controversy by the other hosts.  It was however a combative Ms. Hasselbeck downplaying the President’s claim on “saved jobs” with the argument that there were still so many unemployed.  To which the President calmly replied, “But it matters to those whose jobs were saved” eliciting cheers and claps from the largely female audience.

Did the show change the view of Obama? Based on a survey of The View’s online viewer comments, the response was largely favorable. A few media reports equated Obama’s appearance as an effort to overcome his dropping polls. But the President pointed out in the interview that he doesn’t focus on polls and his decisions are based not on politics but on what is good for the country.

As in most cases, people who were for Obama were reinforced in their support after watching the show while the critics will have reasons to hold on to their case . At least, democracy is in process, the American way. As President Obama said in the show, “We can disagree but not be disagreeable.”

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