On Tuesday night, President Obama appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and was funny, poised and witty... and that certainly pissed Republicans off.
Mind you, if the Republican base asked Obama to jump, and he responded "How high?" they would accuse him of being an indecisive leader unfit for office, so the fact that they found the president's appearance on the show disagreeable is hardly earth-shattering.
Obama appeared on Fallon in part to participate in a segment called "Slow Jamming the News." During the segment, R&B music played as the president and Fallon announced Obama's intention to keep student loan rates low.
Gretchen Carlson called the appearance "nutso" the following day on Fox & Friends, a show that clearly has a fairly strong grasp of what constitutes quality satire. "I personally do not agree with the highest office of the land, the most important figure in the world going on these comedy shows. I think it lowers the status of the office," she said.
Obama appeared on Fallon while the show was being filmed on a college campus, in front of a collegiate audience and discussed his stance on an issue that related to college students. And he did it in such an engaging manner that the appearance has been shared thousands of times, with each person who watched it getting a laugh and a bit of insight into our president's higher education policy. He didn't sling mud or mock his opponent, rather, he put himself in on the joke. And in five minutes, he managed to be more engaging and likable than the entire Republican field has accomplished after several months and millions of dollars spent campaigning.
Shortly after the appearance, the RNC released an attack ad titled "A Tale of Two Leaders" intermingling Obama's appearance on Fallon with a serious speech delivered by Romney at a rally that same night. Never mind that both candidates hold the same stance on the issue of lowering student loan rates, the advertisement's apparent attempt to discredit the president for appearing on a comedy show is, in itself, laughable.
Simply, you can't have Herman "Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" Cain at one point be the frontrunner for the nomination, and then all of a sudden decide what constitutes "lowering the status of the office." Lest we forget, there was a reason GOP candidates in 2008 did everything they possibly could to distance themselves from George W. Bush.
Perhaps the real question that needs to be asked is if having a president that's good in front of the camera and can make America laugh is ultimately a good thing for democracy. While such a figure can increase voter participation -- as proven by the record voter turnout in 2008 -- it also can lead to voters becoming more complacent and possibly less questioning of the candidate's policies, which isn't good for a democratic process that relies on voters being informed in order to be effective. By appearing on Fallon, Obama most definitely increased his likeability (which is directly correlated with electability) but in doing so he may have only distracted his base rather than truly informed it. In short, even if there are several legitimate reasons to support him, it's not good for our democracy if a candidate garners votes based on the fact that people like him -- as a recent poll conducted CNN indicated.
But at the end of the day, what's better: a candidate who announces policies in a sugar-coated manner on Jimmy Fallon, or a candidate who announces policies privately to rich supporters?
Mitt Romney has been tight-lipped about specific stances he'll take to decrease the deficit... except in front of super rich donors when he thinks nobody else is listening. Perhaps only sharing such information for those willing to pay thousands of dollars a plate rather than the greater populace you plan on imposing such policies on should be what actually causes a few eyebrows to raise at Fox News.
But alas, seemingly grasping at straws at this point, Ann Coulter went on Fox News and called Obama's light-hearted appearance "pathetic," which truthfully is an interesting choice of words for a woman who has made her livelihood out of staying relevant via thinly veiled ad hominem attacks. But perhaps patheticness may indeed be the only topic on which Ann Coulter is an authority.
The unbridled willingness on the part of Republicans to toss stones at Obama's appearance on Fallon to announce his support of a policy their candidate is in line with reveals a desperation that is rearing its head surprisingly early given that we're more than six months away from election day.
Rather than attacking Obama's endearing demeanor, maybe what they really need to focus on is improving Mitt Romney's likeability by hiring someone to help him increase his comedic presence.
What's Ricky Perry up to?
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