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.

 

Comments

  1. sherry

    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

    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. Irish77

    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?

  4. almandine

    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…

  5. Hal Brown

     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.)

     

     

  6. sherry

    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?

  7. Carl Nemo

    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 **==

  8. Carl Nemo

    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 **==

  9. Hal Brown

    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

  10. Carl Nemo

    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 **==

  11. Hal Brown

    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.

     

  12. storky

    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.

  13. Hal Brown

     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.

     

  14. storky

    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)

  15. Hal Brown

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

  16. Carl Nemo

    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 **==

  17. sherry

    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

  18. Lillibet

    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