It was great TV.
As he sat on the couch with three women on one side and two on the other, he was completely at ease.
He aced a pop culture quiz, correctly answering questions about Kim Kardashian, Modern Family, Dancing With The Stars and the Avengers but failing to “name the controversial sex book on women’s bedside tables”. “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask Michelle” he said with a chuckle.
They tackled serious topics too but Obama’s guard was never up, even when challenged over his support of Gay Marriage.
He talked about how his wife teases him about his big ears and nose. “She is relentless” he said, noting how important her teasing is when “you have a bunch of people around you in the White House laughing at your jokes”. He referred to himself as “a dumb husband screwing up” when they showed some footage of him walking off Airforce 1 without Michelle and having to go back inside, having left her on the plane.
As I watched, I tried to imagine Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott in the same situation during an election year. Or ever. And I couldn’t. But why not? They are both capable of laughing and being self-deprecating and telling amusing anecdotes about their lives. But put them in front of the media and they both become stiff, awkward and painfully stilted. Where is the warmth? The spontenaity? At what point do you just have to say “stuff it, this is who I am?” Now. Because if either of them want to reverse their high disapproval ratings, they need to try something new.
There seems to be a collective paralysis when it comes to politicians having a laugh and being themselves. The unrelenting pressure to be on message at all times has turned the political landscape into an arid dessert devoid of personality or humanity. It’s a sea of robot soundbites and tightly scripted mission statements. No wonder nobody is listening.
Obama talks Pop Culture.
Obama talks Gay Marriage.