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.
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.