The Ominipresence of Barack Obama
"Obama the Omnipresent" runs the New York Times headline. But thinking he may be over-exposing himself with media appearances is an outmoded idea.
The President in characteristic fashion quipped about his so-called "over-exposure": "I'm so overexposed I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse", he laughed to a Times journalist.
In truth, Obama has a real advantage with television exposure: The camera loves him. He looks good from any angle. The President is so good looking it is nearly impossible to get a bad picture of him. His head is shaped beautifully enough to allow him to wear a shorn haircut. His voice is melodic, at once deeply masculine and soft. His fingers are long and graceful. His eyes sparkle and sulk, by turns. His smile could melt steel. He has an almost unfair advantage over anyone who stands near him. His height and walk are regal and elegantly at ease. During the campaign season his charisma made people faint. The press feel the air crackling when he enters the press area. On an airplane before the election, he was ogled by male and female press who could not stop filming him as he spoke on his cellphone, standing up and turning his back to them in well-fitting jeans. This is a charismatic leader: Hence, he gets away with things few others have been able to.
Even at the Human Rights Campaign dinner , among the very gays who have grown irate and peevish at his tardiness and apathy, all he had to do was smile and say, "You're making me blush!" and the gay men roared their applause. The predictable shouts of "I love you, Barack" brought his, "I love you back.". How many times has a US President been part of this give and take reserved for film actors and pop stars?
WASHINGTON — As President Obama prepares for his speed date with the Sunday morning talk shows, a familiar question dogs his aides: “How much Obama is too much Obama?”
Even by the norms of his ubiquity, Mr. Obama has been on an especially prodigious media binge lately, pitching his health care plan seemingly everywhere but the Food Channel and Fox News.
He will sit for interviews on Sunday with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Univision, and hit the “Late Show With David Letterman” on Monday (he is scheduled to be the show’s only guest), to go with his recent run in the print media (Men’s Health), on the Web (Bloomberg) and on cable news (CNBC).
All that has sparked another debate over the O word — “overexposure” — which has become a principal topic around the White House in recent days.
Is the president cheapening his currency by being so visible? Or is he simply being media savvy?
Those arguing that there has been too much Obama include Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “People are beginning to tune the president out,” Mr. Spain declared in an interview Wednesday.
White House aides maintain that the president is the single best advocate for his message, and they tend to treat questions of whether he is being overexposed with the annoyance one might direct at a fly.
“The president’s ‘overexposure’ is a media-driven obsession that rears its head in between the media’s interview requests for him,” said Bill Burton, deputy White House press secretary.
The notion that a president must ration interviews is an antiquated one, the aides say.
“The idea of overexposure is based on an old-world view of the media,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House’s deputy communications director. Because the media are now so fragmented, Mr. Pfeiffer said, “you would have to do all the Sunday shows, a lot of network news shows and late-night shows” to reach the number of viewers a president could address with one network interview 20 years ago.
In other words, you’d have to be on TV a lot, like Barack Obama.
“We’re essentially roadblocking the time by appearing on each station,” David Axelrod, senior adviser to the president, said of Sunday’s schedule.
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