And, if so, is that a bad thing?
To see what I’m talking about, you’ll have to follow the link; I couldn’t find an embed code.
I thought about posting about this over the weekend, but didn’t. My mind was brought back to it by this piece in The Wall Street Journal this morning.
Bret Stephens harrumphed as follows:
George Washington did not shake hands as president and would grip the hilt of his sword to avoid having his flesh pressed. The founding father understood that leadership in a republic demanded a careful balance between low populism and aristocratic lordliness. Personal comportment, the choice of clothes and carriage, modes of address: these things mattered. And so we have “Mr. President” as opposed to “His Highness.” Or “George.”
With Barack Obama —you won’t mind, Señor Presidente, if we call you Barry?—it’s another story. Dignity of office? How quaint. In this most self-infatuated of presidencies, the D-word is at best an accessory and more often an impediment to everything Barry has ever wanted to be: Cool. Chill. Connected.
So it was that, hours after the U.S. confirmed the murder of Kayla Jean Mueller at the hands of Islamic State, Mr. Obama filmed a short video for BuzzFeed, striking poses in a mirror, donning aviator shades, filming himself with a selfie stick and otherwise inhabiting a role that a chaster version of Miley Cyrus might have played had Hannah Montana been stuck in the White House after a sleepover with the Obama girls.
Ostensibly, the point of the video was to alert BuzzFeed’s audience to the Feb. 15 deadline for ObamaCare enrollment. If communicating with 20-somethings as if they are 11-year-olds is a way to get them to behave like grown-ups, then maybe the White House has at last found a way to make good on its make-believe enrollment numbers….
Now, you know, I’m normally not one to be out-harrumphed. I can be as stuffy as the next guy; probably more so if he’s not quite the thing. Today at the board of governors meeting at my club we had a stimulating conversation about the dress code, and while I didn’t actually join in, it’s because I was too busy holding myself back from saying “Quite right!” and “Capital!” at all the more Tory comments from others.
But I don’t know about this. While I quite take Mr. Stephens’ point that it’s absurd to communicate “with 20-somethings as if they are 11-year-olds,” I also applaud pragmatism in a leader. And if this is the way you have to communicate with them — well, one does what one must.
On the list of actions taken by Obama that have undermined the dignity of the office, the Buzzfeed stupidity doesn’t even make the top 10.
The buzzfeed video has not lowered my respect for President Obama.
Was that a dryly ironic comment on your part, Bryan? As in, “I didn’t think much of him to begin with?” I couldn’t tell whether you were winking…
Harmless fun. No worse than Nixon appearing on Laugh-In.
Bret Stevens is such a glum gus. Of all the times I’ve seen him on TV talk shows, never once has he so much as cracked a smile.
Here’s a rogue’s gallery of other presidents being undignified:
I love that shot with the baby!
You left out Clinton with the sax, which is always the first thing I think of in this category.
Or Nixon saying, “Sock it to ME?” on “Laugh-In”…
And let’s not forget LBJ showing his scar…
Of course, indignity is in the eyes of the beholder. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton strongly disapproved of Abe Lincoln cracking jokes while discussing serious matters…
Actually, the Clinton sax has garnered a touch of staid cultural cred by being displayed in the American History Museum in D.C.
Personally, I miss the days when presidents and presidential candidates considered it beneath their dignity to campaign…
Ah yes, those grand ole days of the McKinley campaign! I’m sure you recall them well.
“Buzzfeed” is no more legitimate for judging presidential decorum than Muslim outreach is for Noble Prize eligibility.
They asked Dana Perino about the buzzfeed video and she amazingly she said she would have recommended her boss,W, not appear in such a video. She must have forgotten the infamous video showing Bush mocking the failure to find WMD. Hypocrisy rules in the GOP.
As for Obama’s video it is refreshing to have a POTUS show a lighter side without being disrespectful the way Bush was.
It doesn’t matter what he did. Whether in form or substance on any matter, the haters are going to criticize – often in over-the-top fashion, and the supporters are going to support – sometimes while rolling their eyes. Others will just ignore occurrences and reactions to them that get more attention than they deserve.
I learned a new term from the coverage of this. I didn’t know “selfie stick” was a thing. I’ve seen loads of people shoot selfies, but never one of those…