Casual Shorts and Health Care Politics

Slide_2433_31813_large The morning news shows were more insane then usual this morning. I had to watch a five minute segment on a cat who plays the piano. Then there was a ten minute segment on Michelle Obama's decision to wear shorts on vacation. They brought in two experts to debate whether or not Michelle showed too much skin. It's excellence in journalism, I tell you.

While the debate over Michelle's shorts is stupid, it is true that the Obamas have altered the perception of the presidency. It's less regal and more folksy. Not only does Michelle have some cellulite, just like you and me, but they watch SpongeBob with their kids. We know about their little squabbles about clothes and smoking. Obama has a formidable mother-in-law – how normal is that? 

They're plastered on magazine covers and TV. Obama gives press conference after press conference. He's doing the town hall meetings. He's everywhere. He's like my neighbor, Fred, putzing around in the yard shirtless, his big beer belly hanging over his shorts.

The Obama presidency is less Camalot, and more cul-de-sac.

All that normality isn't a good thing for the president. He's removed an important trump card of the presidency — awe and fear. He's too normal and he's over-exposed.

He shouldn't be doing these town hall meetings. There needs to be another point person doing all this leg work. They should bring in Obama to bat clean up. Bring him out at the end, when others have got on base. No one is paying attention to his speeches anymore, because we're tired of him. 

11 thoughts on “Casual Shorts and Health Care Politics

  1. What beer belly?
    I think they’re “cul de sac”, ’cause they really are cul de sac (well, the Hyde park version, which shares more with the cambridge/amherst/berkeley/new haven version than with the suburban version). They’re upper middle class professionals, and they act like them. It’s a change from the last 16 years, where the presidents came from the governors’ mansions, and in Bush II’s case from the white house, too.
    So, can’t agree that they should be someone other then themselves. And, I’m a bit bemused at this complaint about Obama being too ordinary and accessible, when the old complaint was about being an orator.
    Obama always ignored us (I think I mean the semi-liberal, progressive lefties who talk a lot on the internet, in this context), when the Rev Wright stuff was coming out, when the economy was collapsing, when Palin was flying high. And, it worked for him during the campaign. I am very confident that he’s better at the political game than I am, and have no advice to offer him on the game (though I’m happy to continue pushing him to make the right decisions on things I’m disappointed about).


  2. I think we’re getting much more personal information about the Obama and his family than we ever did from Bush. Obama’s just on TV a lot more. In most ways, this is a good thing. It’s great to see a president who can field an unscripted question from the press. It’s great for accountability, but I think it’s hurting him now that he really needs this health initiative. I think he’s screwing it up. If you are always on TV, then no one bothers to listen when it really matters. And the whole awe of the presidency has always been a really important power of the presidency. While awe is a really undemocratic and elitist, it is a powerful tool.


  3. My neighbors tend to wear shirts, but I did get to watch one eighty-something woman ask a seventy-something widow if she was “getting any” (in those words).


  4. However, I was reading a royalty fandom magazine in the cigar store at lunch last week (yes, I know, hanging out at the cigar store sounds so sleazy) and Michelle Obama was plastered all over it, alongside fashion shots of all sorts of European royalty. So they can’t really be hoi polloi.
    I bet Laura Bush didn’t make those fashion features.


  5. “It’s great to see a president who can field an unscripted question from the press.”
    Whether the questions are unscripted or not is a controversial question. Jack Tapper’s are obviously not scripted.


  6. Why is so hard to put on a skirt or a pair of capris? Come on…bring some dignity to your position. I realize Michelle has two young girls, but coming off of Airforce One in shorts seems slightly inappropriate if you are the First Lady. So too, wearing shorts into the office–academic or otherwise–is inappropriate. There is a place for everything. And, to give some context, I have no problem with Michelle showing her arms.
    Sorry, I’m a traditionalist in this regard. I like when folks dress. And, I don’t mean she has to be “over dressed;” a simple A-line skirt is fine such as:


  7. Ooh, cute skirt. But, odd color.
    Can’t Michelle ever wear shorts, though? I know what Laura means about walking around midtown wearing shorts (it’s the same as walking around Verona wearing shorts). It screams tourist/American.
    But, I think shorts are perfectly appropriate in a suburban playground (my current favorite are men’s Old Navy cargo shorts with a Hawaiian flower motif on them).


  8. Personally I believe that is a man who understands the people and lives like the people that will understand what is needed by the people. For example, Obama made a trip to the Grand Canyon, a National Park that is highly regarded by the majority of U.S. citizens. By making this trip he is able to see the importance of protecting our wildlife. Sure he watches sponge bob, what kinda of father would he be if he didn’t enjoy free time with his kid? Being a good father is setting an example for others to follow, there is nothing wrong with that. Overall Obama and his family being more “folksy” only brings him closer to the people.


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