Free Markets, Free People

President Obama: Media Savvy or Overexposed?

New York Magazine has an article about Barack Obama which begins:

Since occupying the White House, Barack Obama has hosted fifteen town-hall meetings; appeared in more than 800 images on the White House Flickr photo-stream; and held four prime-time press conferences, the same number held by George W. Bush in his entire presidency. He’s sent a video message to the people of Iran. He’s given an address in Cairo that was translated into fourteen languages. He’s sat on Jay Leno’s couch, where he riffed about the supreme strangeness of having his own motorcade (“You know, we’ve got the ambulance and then the caboose and then the dogsled”), and he’s walked Brian Williams through the White House, where he introduced the anchor to Bo the dog. Two weeks ago, when he made a controversial comment at a press conference (that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” toward Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.), he followed up with yet another press appearance in the White House briefing room—and an exclusive interview on Nightline. And that was before he sat down for a well-publicized beer with Gates and the offending officer …

Such are the president’s media habits. It’s gotten to the point where one expects to see and hear from him every day. He’s in the information business almost as much as the policy business. “This is president as content provider,” says Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman and adviser to George W. Bush. “It’s like when Rosie O’Donnell had a show and a magazine and a blog.”

The obvious and not very subtle point of Gillespie’s comment is people tired of Rosie O’Donnell rather quickly, especially when she was overexposed at that time, and her star quickly faded.

The question I’ve been pondering for some time is whether Obama risks overexposure to the point that people just start tuning him out? For a political junkie like me, I’ve mostly tuned him out already, since after listening to a couple of the town halls, I’ve realized that what’s going on with him now is not much different than during his campaign. He has a set of talking points, depending on the subject, and you can depend on him repeating them. During questions, he’ll repeat them again. Knowing the talking points, I see no need to watch them delivered again and again – especially when I know most of them are nonsense.

As things develop and more and more people who aren’t in the “political junkie” category pay closer attention, will they too end up having the same reaction I have had? Especially when they see the talking points (“your taxes won’t go up by even a dime”) turn to political dust?

And here’s another point from the article’s subtitle:

Barack Obama’s ubiquitous appearances as professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, father-in-chief, may turn out to be the most salient feature of his presidency.

It may indeed end up being “the most salient feature of his presidency”, but I wonder how long Americans are going to stand being lectured about almost every aspect of their lives, especially as the economy continues to tank? At what point do you suppose the majority will say, by tuning him out, “why don’t you concentrate on governing the country and we’ll take care of running our lives?”

New York Magazine, unsurprisingly, thinks that this seemingly deliberate strategy of “ubiquity” isn’t the same as overexposure and is thus a good thing:

It’s a large helping of Obama, surely. But those who think the White House has overdone it are missing the point. In today’s media environment, ubiquity is not the same as overexposure. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s critical to any understanding of the Obama presidency.

What they’re referring too is this country’s celebrity culture. And Barack Obama was certainly a political rock star on the campaign trail. But this premise that his “ubiquity” now is going to be a good thing seems to ignore the ubiquity of George Bush in terms of media exposure, especially in the last 4 years of his presidency. Few will argue that exposure was a “good thing” for him. Most of it, however, was media driven and mostly negative.

New York Magazine is arguing this is different (and I’d agree since much of Obama’s “ubiquity” is also media driven and mostly positive).

But just as Americans tired of George Bush, doesn’t this seeming overexposure of Barack Obama, especially this early in his presidency, risk the same will happen to him? New York Magazine may find referring to it as “ubiquity” somehow makes his constant appearances on just about every subject something other that overexposure, but I’m not ready to buy into that just yet.

I’m already tired of seeing him. I’m just wondering if the same thing will happen to the majority of my fellow citizens – and, if so, what political effect that might have.


10 Responses to President Obama: Media Savvy or Overexposed?

  • The more he stands in front of the press and answers, even scripted questions, the more opportunity there is for the man behind the curtain, running the teleprompter, to lose control of the talking can of spam.  And every time that happens we’ll be treated to another “Gates” incident, or another “we won” incident.
    And collectively, those will begin to tell against him.  His arrogance, his expectations of entitlement, his reflexive annoyance at being questioned, and his actual inability to be a statesman will shine through.   He will continually demonstrate off the cuff that he doesn’t really have a clue when he’s caught on unknown or unexpected ground.
    So, as much as I loathe seeing the man, and hearing him spin his distorted view of reality on both the economy and the course of the country, I say – go for it Spammy.
    And the same goes for VP Joe, though I’m beginning to like the guy in spite of myself, because he just can’t seem to avoid telling what he knows to be the truth, regardless of being a politician, and regardless of his handlers and talking points.

  • Perhaps he is now running for the title of “The Great Communicator”.

    One wonders how he finds the time to read and study all the issues, like health care, that he needs to.


  • Overexposure kills all politicians.

    Obama is welcome to continue the political suicide

  • At what point do you suppose the majority will say, by tuning him out, “why don’t you concentrate on governing the country and we’ll take care of running our lives?”

    They’ll probably want to say this after it’s too late.

  • At what point do you suppose the majority will say, by tuning him out, “why don’t you concentrate on governing the country and we’ll take care of running our lives?”

    I’ll wager an ice cold lager that for Obama governing the country and running our lives are the same thing.

  • Interesting how the article states that Obama had a beer with “Gates and the offending officer…”
    Exactly what did Crawley do wrong again?

  • Early in my lifetime (I’m 56), the only exposure you had to government employees was your mail carrier. The only time you saw the president was during a major crisis (Berlin Crisis or Cuban Missile Crisis).
    Today, it’s ever day, three times a day. It’s a crisis mindset.
    Of course, in those days we took care of 99.99% of our problems on our own – today, people can’t even wipe their own behind without instructions and hand holding, thanks to Oprahfication of the males, and the ditzification of the females.

  • McQ – “The obvious and not very subtle point of Gillespie’s comment is people tired of Rosie O’Donnell rather quickly, especially when she was overexposed at that time, and her star quickly faded.”

    She didn’t have MiniTru to make sure that all her exposure was positive. It’s sort of like those “celebs without makeup” photos that one sees on the internet from time to time: an actress is ALWAYS beautiful… so long as nobody EVER sees a pic of her without her makeup, with her hair in a mess, or in a bikini after she’s put on a few pounds between movies. Obama will ALWAYS be a genius, a great communicator, the great professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, and father-in-chief, so long as nobody points out that this messiah actually has feet of clay.

    Anyway, overexposure can be part of the plan:

    “On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.”

    George Orwell

    “Napoleon was now never spoken of simply as ‘Napoleon.’ He was always referred to in formal style as ‘our Leader, Comrade Napoleon,’ and this pigs liked to invent for him such titles as Father of All Animals, Terror of Mankind, protector of the Sheep-fold, Ducklings’ Friend, and the like. In his speeches, Squealer would talk with the tears rolling down his cheeks of Napoleon’s wisdom the goodness of his heart, and the deep love he bore to all animals everywhere, even and especially the unhappy animals who still lived in ignorance and slavery on other farms. It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, ‘Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days’; or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, ‘Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this
    water tastes!’ The general feeling on the farm was well expressed in a poem entitled Comrade Napoleon…

    “Napoleon approved of this poem and caused it to be inscribed on the wall of the big barn, at the opposite end from the Seven Commandments. It was surmounted by a portrait of Napoleon, in profile, executed by Squealer in white paint.”

    George Orwell
    “Animal Farm”

    The subtitle to this blog is “Free Markets, Free People”. I suggest that many Americans are NOT free. Oh, they aren’t slaves in the sense that they wear chains and are ordered about, but in their minds, they yearn for a master. They are content to believe that somebody with a fancy title knows best for them and for everybody else. They long to be relieved of the burden of living their own lives. This is not evidence of a free people; these are people merely living in a (temporarily) large and luxurious cell.

    “And he loved Big Brother.”