Though no sitting president has ever appeared on a daytime talk show, when Barack Obama tapes "The View" on Wednesday (the segment airs the following day), it will actually be his second visit with Barbara Walters & Co. The last time The View ladies welcomed him, during his 2008 presidential campaign, their questions weren't entirely softball. So why is Obama returning now? And is it a good idea? Here are five takes: (Watch Whoopi Goldberg's announcement.)
1. The president is doing PR repair after the Shirley Sherrod debacle
Obama's decision to do The View, says David Zurawik in The Baltimore Sun, is a "direct response" to the criticism over "his administration's harsh and abrupt firing of USDA worker [Sherrod]." His mea culpas will be aimed at the "many female viewers of The View who might have been particularly offended" by the firing, and it fits the prototypical Obama pattern: "When the going gets tough, the president goes on TV."
2. It's an inevitable step — why did it take so long?
Almost 20 years after populist genius Bill Clinton's seminal saxophone moment on The Arsenio Hall Show, says Jason Cochran in WalletPop, Obama's stop by The View shows that our politicians are finally seeing "value in communicating with us where we actually live, in between the ads for groceries and diapers." The real question is: Why haven't other presidents tapped this demographic?
3. Obama knows The View audience will give him a no-brainer boost
Obama would reach a bigger audience on the Late Show With David Letterman, says Jessica Grose in Slate's XX Factor, but given his "pretty dismal" approval ratings, "Obama is looking for an easy boost, and he knows he'll get it from Barbara & Co." He's likely noted how "gentle" they were with Vice President Joe Biden in April.
4. Older women vote
The specific demographic gold mine here is the show's "huge audience of middle-aged, working-class women," says Amy Chozick in The Wall Street Journal. These women (median age: 59) "rarely watch the Sunday news shows," but they "vote in midterm elections in much larger numbers than their male counterparts."
5. It's the economy, stupid
It's important to remember that The View audience isn't just female, says Dan Amira in New York Magazine. With the midterm elections fast approaching, and the economy "still struggling," Obama could really "use some face time" with both "penny-pinching suburban housewives and channel-flipping unemployed people" of both sexes.