Did Obama fiddle while your house burned?

I set the DVR and decided to watch President Obama on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in the morning before I checked out the critical response. I did catch the New York Post front page "No Joke! O Yukes it Up on Leno As Economy Burns", on Morning Joe before I could stop live TV. Uh oh, I thought, has Obama lost his mind or is this just The Post being The Post? (Also comment on "60 Minutes" gallows humor.)
 
I watched the show and yes, it was The Post being The Post. I won’t  look at other papers  until I write this.
 
NY Post
 
 
I think The Washington Post (tiny picture on front page) and The New York Times, the later where it isn’t even on the front page, underplayed the story because I do think that what Obama decided to do is quite significant. While this isn’t World War Two, this was the closest address to a nation in trouble as an FDR fireside chat. (Update: It’s being reported that about 20 million people watched the show.)
 
The criticism that Obama shouldn’t be traveling to California in the midst of a crisis when he’s the president of the entire country, excuse the pun, just doesn’t fly. Are the same critics going to complain when he jets to England, France, Germany and the Czech Republic to meet with leaders between March 31 and April 5th?
 
There was lighter conversation in the last segment of the show when Leno said he wanted to ask a few personal questions and began with one about how cool it must be to fly on Air Force One. (Leno had some good jokes, one being that the first thing he’d do was watch the movie "Air Force One" on Air Force One.)
 
However, most of Obama’s time was spent addressing the financial problems to what may prove to be one of his largest audiences since he became president. 
 
While Leno didn’t ask adversarial questions, his were cogent, sensible, and in fact asked most questions the average informed citizen would. 
 
Obama did make one unfortunate faux pax when talking about his bowling score now being in the 130’s he said  "it’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something." The White House was quick to issue an apology.
 
To me, and I think to most viewers, the president came across as both serious and relaxed, as a man comfortable in his own skin who certainly doesn’t need a teleprompter.
 
I think we’ll be seeing more appearance of the president on similar shows

Added comment Mar. 16, 2009:

 On 60 Minutes Obama laughed – just saw the replay and thought to myself "it’s gallows humor".  On Saturday I was talking about gallows humor to a life guard at the Y who just started a job as an ambulance EMT in Boston.  He said he’s already started to observe it among emergency room staff.

 Streve Kroft asked Obama whether viewers would think the laughter was inappropriate and conveyed that he was taking this too lightly.

“You’re sitting here. And you’re— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asked at one point.

“Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft said.

Watch the interview

Obama answered using the exact term I was thinking:

“No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,”

Unfortunately, those who don’t work in emergency rooms and on ambulances, and who deal with tragedies as part of their job, usually don’t get "gallows humor" and understand it is a coping mechanism.

If someone is  horribly burned  the doctor isn’t going to tell their loved ones that the crispy cirtter is in critical condition. 

Obama, the nation’s doctor,  made a public relations mistake on 60 Minutes.

More comments and clips on Gawker here.

 

28 Responses to "Did Obama fiddle while your house burned?"

  1. sherry  March 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I don’t know of any POTUS who has attended the funeral of a soldier.
    The media blackout of the flag draped coffins was draconian, but really who wants the POTUS at a private family event?

    As for Bushs’ days outside DC, I considered them a favor. Less damage.

    It’s a new day. Take that cleansing breath.

  2. gazelle1929  March 20, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Frankly I had not thought about the private family event aspect of it, but in my heart I believe the Commander in Chief, during his or her term in office, should attend at least one such funeral to show that the entire nation mourns the loss of that service person.

    Of course the Republicans have a different take. They actuallyused actors to produce a video of a fake military funeral which they showed at their last national convention:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/04/cbsnews_investigates/main4415886.shtml

    Shameful.

  3. Hal Brown  March 20, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    This is from 2003 and addresses presidents attending military funerals or memorial services. LINK HERE 

  4. Irish77  March 20, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Obama has been president two months today. He inherited a huge mess. He seems to be taking steps to improve things, but it takes lots of effort to change things in Washington. He has stopped a number of things Bush had in process or established that could be done with executive order. How well would most people do multi-tasking, multiple disasters?

  5. almandine  March 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    The Big O…

    will prove to be nothing like what anyone expected… unless Marx was the model.

    Hell, just look at what Congress has determined to be fair game, given his ultimate signature on the bottom line. Be scared, be very…

    Collectivism is slavery…

  6. Hal Brown  March 21, 2009 at 8:07 pm

     This doesn’t have anything to do with my column but it is so funny I want to share it with as many people as possible.

    We actually got a solicitation from AIG today in the mail. It was a card from their "Private Insurance Group" with the heading "Five cars, four homes, three sculptures, two yachts, and just one organization to protect them all". We are supposedly "high net worth individuals"! On the bottom, get this, it says AIG Private Client Group: WE KNOW RISK.

    Check it out here

    I don’t know whether to laugh or scream.

    (We only have one home and it certainly isn’t insured for $1 million, their minimum. My wife threw it away but I fished it out of the garbage. It’s a keeper. Perhaps I’ll frame it.)

     

     

  7. sherry  March 21, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Hal, it is a scream. Not only do they have you confused with millionaires, they apparently have you confused with someone living in a complete media blackout.
    This begs the question, how could AIG ever be truly viable when no one has enough faith in them to do business?

  8. Carl Nemo  March 22, 2009 at 4:08 am

    Hey, AIG is my insurer and I’m hoping they continue to get almost infinite sums of money from American taxpayers so my wife and I can sleep well at night… :0))

    Carl Nemo **==

  9. Carl Nemo  March 22, 2009 at 4:14 am

    Interestingly Sherry, uber wealthy people are living in a fog; ie., a blackout because our problems don’t concern them! Do you think they are really concerned with the trials and tribulation of mere mice and men…?

    Umm…Mr. Rockefeller?…Mr. Rockefeller…Sir, are you aware that a major insurer AIG is having some difficulties? David Rockefeller…AIG?!…AIG… who?! /:|

    Carl Nemo **==

  10. Hal Brown  March 22, 2009 at 7:56 am

    AIG Card front 

    Click here to enlarge

    What I also find amazing is that they would send this to anybody who is supposed to be worth many millions of dollars. They would be likely to throw it in the trash without reading it, or one their maids would do it along with the rest of the junk mail. 

    Is this how the mulit-muli-millionaires buy their insurance?

    And from AIG.

    What marketing genius thought this up? This seems less likely to get a customer than the Nigerian email scam.

    AIG card back

    Click here to enlarge

  11. Carl Nemo  March 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Hal, it just might be a Nigerian type of scam and worth the effort to call the contact numbers on the mailing to see where it leads.

    On occasion I get official looking mailings from what I think are known corporations, but it just doesn’t look right and sure enough it was a mail scam.

    In these times just about any idea concerning fraud is viable.

    Carl Nemo **==

  12. Hal Brown  March 22, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Carl,

    I wish it was a Nigerian type scheme. This is part of the real AIG’s evil empire.

    I looked at their main website and found the link on it. It’s HERE.

     

  13. storky  March 22, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Yes, get used to it. Our previous pResident couldn’t walk and chew gum.

    This one does that AND spins plates on sticks AND juggles while playing his one-man-band ensemble.

    When Obama jokes, he doesn’t mock inspectors searching for non-existent weapons of mass destruction. When Obama extends an invitation for dialog to a perceived enemy, it doesn’t include some nonsensical ultimatum.

    I am far from pleased with Obama policy that needlessly tacks to the right. But I am pleased with his conduct as a world leader, a world-class organizer and a genuine man of the people.

  14. Hal Brown  March 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

     On 60 Minutes Obama laughed – just saw the replay and thought to myself "it’s gallows humor".  On Saturday I was talking about gallows humor to a life guard at the Y who just started a job as an ambulance EMT in Boston.  He said he’s already started to observe it among emergency room staff.

     Streve Kroft asked Obama whether viewers would think the laughter was inappropriate and conveyed that he was taking this too lightly.

    “You’re sitting here. And you’re— you are laughing. You are laughing about some of these problems. Are people going to look at this and say, ‘I mean, he’s sitting there just making jokes about money—’ How do you deal with— I mean: explain. . .” Kroft asked at one point.

    “Are you punch-drunk?” Kroft said.

    Watch the interview

    Obama answered using the exact term I was thinking:

    “No, no. There’s gotta be a little gallows humor to get you through the day,”

    Unfortunately, those who don’t work in emergency rooms and on ambulances, and who deal with tragedies as part of their job, usually don’t get "gallows humor" and understand it is a coping mechanism.

    If someone is  horribly burned  the doctor isn’t going to tell their loved ones that the crispy cirtter is in critical condition. 

    Obama, the nation’s doctor,  made a public relations mistake on 60 Minutes.

    More comments and clips on Gawker here.

     

  15. storky  March 23, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Obama could learn a lot from Dumba:

    “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.”

    tee hee hee

    “No, no weapons over there,”

    ha ha ha ha

    “Maybe under here?”

    Baw haw haw haw haw haw !!!!!

    (Actual quotes from a video of Bush crawling around the Oval Office presented at the 60th Annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents, March 24, 2004)

  16. Hal Brown  March 23, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Notice how he cracks up as if he really thinks it’s funny, also catch Leiberman laughing.

  17. Carl Nemo  March 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Truly a stunning clip Hal…!

    What flashed through my mind as I watched the Emperor Bush with his fawning cabal of Senators and other camp-following simps from the press is that we could possibly be watching a scene from ancient Rome when an Emperor the likes of Caligula, Nero, or a Commodus upon cracking a joke; everyone best best be laughing and yukking it up…no! Even their collective countenances wreak of pure, unadulterated…EVIL!

    Rome although going through various stages of government from its infancy as a kingdom, then to a republic and finally to an empire ruled by ever more corrupt emperors in the end, lasted a 1000 years, but seemingly our sorry butt country founded as a republic, now having devolved into an empire post WWII will be nothing but a fireflies wink in the historical record, soon to become a footnote of history.

    It seems that our fate is both just and best for the world at large. The U.S. has become a predator nation, long since having lost its meter for doing what’s both right and best; ie., living up for what it once stood.

    As a nation, we’ve truly become the “whore of Babylon” as referenced in the Christian “Apocalypse”…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  18. sherry  March 25, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Hal, I kind of wondered if Obama may not have had something to help him relax before the interview……
    I do get gallows humor. I have worked in ER and it is absolutely necessary. That said, we of course never revealed that side to the families.
    I don’t think Kroft was far off the mark at wondering if Obama was punchy. It sure appeared that way

  19. Lillibet  March 26, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Some time between the establishment of the Federal Reserve and the implementation of Operation Paperclip, this nation went down the tubes.

    Those would be the “pre-Internets tubes”, not the more recent information tubes of communication–21st Century style. We are, as a nation, the most entertained (witness the chuckling by Joe-El and the empty tabled Ms. Pelosi), and the least educated in the world.

    Our health care has slipped from No. 1 to No. 40-something (out of about 125), as our economy has gone from world lender to world debtor. We have bases in 137 places around the world, and now having bathed the Middle East in its second dose of nuclear weaponry thanks to those super shells we’ve scattered far and wide in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Depleted Uranium, while good for shell and weapon points, remains highly radioactive and will take about 3.5 Billion years to decay to “harmless”.) We are the world bully, and a very dangerous polluter too.

    All this while people are working two and three jobs, formerly to pay the gas bills run up by the financial hotshots that brought us this Economic Pearl Harbor, and now adding another job, if they can find it, to make up for the losses as assets “de-materialize” with each call for “Bailout Ben” to crank up the printing presses. See, just for fun (not!) this: The Real AIG Conspiracy

    Our per capita debt is inching past $30,000 per citizen, higher for each worker.

    The only thing that consoles me is my violin is fully paid, with no equity loans on it for the odd improvement project. After all, how much money can one spend on sheet music after five decades of playing? [Crank up the Schubert, "Adagio for Strings." I feel an Apocalypse warming up in the wings.]

    Then again, I am selling my car as insurance too expensive for the budget. Violin strings, sadly, are made with sterling silver. Would that I could overcome the need for $400 prescriptions (with insurance at that price), or the again-doubled health insurance premiums.

    Oh well, just another day of muddling through the Hegelian Dialectic of problem — reaction — solution. They highlight a problem that was obvious in 2004 in 2008, then nationalize banks and insurance companies, allow US taxpayer dollars to be funneled to foreign banks, as all cry loudly when one tenth of one percent of one company’s Taxpayer Funded Funds is used for bonuses, while ignoring the other payouts, and the socialism inherent in the whole scheme, and we all watch our dollars vaporize into hyper-inflated hot air, courtesy of the Congress that still cannot shoot straight.

    At least the progeny of Paperclip are still doing well on that national socialism thing as banks are now owned by the government. It’s not just Obama fiddling that got us here. It’s not going to be fun, but we need to overcome our citizen-lethargy and fight to regain the Republic. Failing that, we shall surely end up as much a bad punchline of an Imperial joke as did Rome before us.

    Sigh…

    Lillibet

  20. Hal Brown  March 20, 2009 at 9:42 am

     I read The New York Post article (LINK), 

    if this is all anybody reads, and unfortunately there are those in New York City who only read the Post and watch Fox for news, they’d think that Obama did nothing but tell jokes last night.

    The article is pure spin. It casts the president as a clown with "perfect comic timing" who isn’t concerned about the economic crisis.

    Even the title is crap:

     BARACK’S FUNNY BUSINESS

     

    JESTS ON LENO AS GOPERS RIP ECON ‘NEGLECT’

    It begins:

    President Obama last night got comfy on "The Tonight Show" couch, cracking jokes about his bowling, a promised pooch and his job even as critics slammed his appearance, and a foray into basketball predictions, as distractions from a critically ill economy.

     

     

  21. Hal Brown  March 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

     I like how the ever objective Christian Science Monitor (LINK) put it:

     

     

    When the president of the United States discusses the effects of credit default swaps on a late-night TV talk show, you know:

    (a) the world has gone mad;

    (b) it’s not sweeps month; or

    (c) President Obama has become the explainer in chief for America’s financial crisis.

    While option (a) cannot be entirely ruled out, Mr. Obama’s appearance on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” Thursday elicited more responses along the lines of (c)

     

    I also like the quickie review on Newsday’s TV Zone (LINK) especially the author’s observation about Obama’s "level of cool". When asked about how cool it felt to him to fly on Air Force One he admitted it was pretty cool, but then told a story about his daughters flying on Marine One and being given an aerial view of Washington. He said Sasha was more interested in a bowl of candy:

     

     Sasha looks over and she says: ‘Are those Starbursts?‘" because she thought she saw a box them over near dad.

    Starbursts: The best touch of the night. If he had said "Gummy Sour Worms," most people woulda scratched their heads. If he’d said "M&Ms," it woulda sounded like a product placement mention. If he had said "Mars bars," it woulda seemed like he was talking about a candy popular during the Second World War.

    But Starbursts - a candy brand that kids (and parents) know as intimately as"SpongeBob Squarepants."

    "They’ve got a whole other level of cool," Obama said of his kids.

    And so do you, Mr. Prez. So do you.

     

    Of course being perceived as "cool" by Jay Leno’s audience, and by the countless people who will view segments replayed, doesn’t solve the economic crisis. But to suggest this isn’t an important factor in influencing the national psyche, hopefully in a positive way, is socio-politically naive.

  22. sherry  March 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    I watched, thought he made some good points, and yes showed a good sense of humor. Would people be happy if he took out a hanky and cried in it?
    Loved it when the daughters were flying over the Lincoln Memorial, and they were more concerned about the candy on board. Wouldn’t they make a kewl reality show? :)

  23. Carl Nemo  March 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Yes, our president does have a sense of humor and is a personable man, but…!?

    I’m beginning to notice something that seems almost eerie in his public addresses. He’s a superb orator, but he still seems to be in the campaign trail mode with his content seemingly in an endless loop. Also he feels that he needs to answer all questions from the audience in detail when you can sense he really doesn’t know for sure if the problem is being addressed. A spokesman for disabled people asked him some questions about integrating their talent pool into the upcoming stimulus package. The President answered in a somewhat halting, unsure manner. I would have respected him moreso if he had simply said; sir, that’s an excellent point and I’ll pass this on to my staff to make sure this issue is addressed. On more than one occasion George Bush simply stated, I don’t know, but I’ll have my people check it out etc.

    I wish he’d start living up to his major campaign promises in an almost clinical fashion. He has the power to wrap up our involvement in the Middle East even if it means firing a bunch of pompous generals with more stars in their eyes; ie., if they don’t have four already.

    His National Security Council which is generally nothing but a bunch of cheerleaders for MIC/oil patch interests would like us to stay in those regions, in force, until the 12th of forever. We simply cannot afford to fight in multiple zones of conflict. Our military is severely weakened and spread far too thin at this time.

    Granted he’s been reversing many of Bush’s signing orders and other feelgood issues, but I’m getting edgy about the committment to closing GITMO, summary extrication for Iraq and to hopefully exert a minimal footprint in Afghanistan. Seemingly Afghanistan is going to be the substitute theater of conflict for Iraq. Pakistan has nukes with the ability to deliver them within the region now. Their nation demonstrates high instability and needs to be gentled down with with iron-fisted diplomacy. Unfortunately our CIA and the NSC always seem to call the shots wrong, getting us into further involvement in the region with little forward motion on the field except to continue to bleed the American tax-debtor evermore white…!

    My wife and I voted for the man because we had hope beyond all hope that there was the possibility of a seachange in our national agenda, but our president has loaded his ship of state to the gunnels with mostly retreads from the past all with Bilderber, CFR, and Trilateral credentials; ie., the crowd that’s hellbent on creating a one world government. Nothing they do will benefit this nation without us having to pay even more dearly with our few remaining freedoms and national treasure, what little is left.

    Carl Nemo **==

  24. Jim Shelton  March 20, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Does he not get credit for creating transparency and honesty in government? The previous administration used to “hide” the cost of the Iraq war. As far as the retreads from the Clinton years’, I would simply state that I used to be a millionaire; now I’m not. President Obama has the charisma and intelligence, and the team to turn things around. Congress is perhaps the only thing that is standing in his way. I can hardly stand to listen to the endless drivel and “buck passing” that spews from their sessions.

  25. Carl Nemo  March 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    Hi Jim Shelton,

    “President Obama has the charisma and intelligence, and the team to turn things around.” … extract from post

    If Tim Geithner represents a dipstick sampling of the team that’s going to turn things around, then I’d say Obama’s administration is ready for an oil change… : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  26. Hal Brown  March 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm

     It used to be called being taken to the woodshed. My hunch is that this is what Obama did to Geithner for being tone deaf to "main street" on the AIG bonuses.

    Obama gets blasted in many quarters for being able to inspire confidence with glib generalities. That’s what my column is about. The country needs both confidence and solutions.

    Car dealerships put their mechanics in the garage behind a sign that forbids you, the car’s owner, from daring to go back there. You are only allowed to talk to someone called the service manager , often in a white shirt and tie, who is supposed to know something about what is wrong with your car.

    Our minivan is at a repair shop that has two mechanics, the owner and his assistant. It’s the second time in a month for the same problem. The own tried to explain the problem and even showed me the innards of the engine which was opened up like a corpse on CSI. 

    I understood what they told me about as much as I understand it when a pundit tries to explain economics which is close to zero. 

    I hope the boss mechanic knows how to fix the car.

    I hope Obama understands economics well enough, and has other advisors who can guide him, to make certain Geithner knows what he’s doing.

  27. sherry  March 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Carl Nemo, if you thought Obama or anyone else was going to be a ball buster, think again. DC backed Obama because he was one of them. No matter who is elected, they have to make the establishment happy. Bad things happen to POTUS when they don’t.

    I believe Obama is working toward change. It will happen in teeny, tiny baby steps.

    It’s ironic, I didn’t vote for him, still wish Hillary had been the nominee, but I am willing to give the man a chance. He is in his 60th day. Still has his training wheels on if you will.

  28. gazelle1929  March 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    What is it with the Republican ‘strategy” of criticizing the President because he appeared on a talk show. Where the F*** were all these fools in the last eight years when their village idiot was off at his ranch in Crawford cutting and burning mesquite, mountain biking around, and to my knowledge never ONCE going to a funeral of one of the members of our armed forces that he sent to his or her death in a meaningless war against the wrong opponent? I seem to recall that Bush actually spent more days outside of DC (principally at his ranch) than did both of his predecessors combined.

    What a bunch of sanctimonious pricks. 2010 cannot come soon enough.

Comments are closed.