Feature

Obama: Is he overexposed?

Is President Obama’s constant presence on our TV screens disquieting or reassuring?

Barack Obama is a natural crowd pleaser, said Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News, but if he doesn’t cut back on the TV appearances soon, he’ll become “the first American president to suffer from overexposure before his first 100 days are up.” Every time you turn on the TV, there’s our new president—yukking it up with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, letting down his hair on 60 Minutes, and fencing with reporters at a prime-time press conference. Most bizarre of all was seeing the world’s most powerful man filling out his NCAA bracket on ESPN. What’s next, American Idol? Obama was elected “to be the smartest guy in the room, not the most popular kid in class.” I know he’s trying to win people over to his ambitious agenda, said David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun. But “there’s something disquieting” about Obama’s constant presence on our screens. “All hell is breaking loose” in the economy and all over the world, so when the president is on TV, making jokes, who’s running the country?

This is a “phony issue,” said Michelle Cottle in TheNewrepublic.com. Unlike his predecessor, who communicated with the nation rarely and grudgingly, Obama seems to have an appetite for both halves of the job: running the country, and explaining how he’s doing it. With the nation in crisis, this second task is more important than ever, and Obama knows it, which is why he’s trying to be seen “by as many people as possible—looking calm, confident, and in command.” It’s called leadership, said The Hartford Courant in an editorial. Watching Obama talk about the economy, Afghanistan—or anything—it’s hard not to be impressed by “his patience, his persistence, and his ability to think and speak in complete thoughts.” More, please.

Sometimes, though, you can have too much of a good thing, said John Mashek in Newsday. Even the most persuasive communicator will start to grate “if his face appears every time a viewer surfs the channels.” Soon, the public will start to tune Obama out. Maybe that’s the point, said Jon Friedman in Marketwatch.com. By being “everywhere all the time,” Obama could be trying to make the press and the public so tired of him that they stop scrutinizing his every move—and thereby give him the space he needs to get things done. “When you think about it, that isn’t a bad game plan.”

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