It’s either cynical marketing or a sad commentary on the Affordable Care Act’s failure and unpopularity.
Apparently it’s come to this: President Obama had to shill his signature legislation on a wholly vacuous Internet-only comedy broadcast.
The commander-in-chief’s appearance on the Funny or Die website with liberal comedian Zach Galifianakis, best known for the vulgar The Hangover movie series, was a last-minute push to boost sagging Obamacare enrollment among younger Americans before a March 31 deadline.
The White House said about 32,000 people who watched Galifianakis’ talk-show spoof Between Two Ferns have clicked on healthcare.gov.
Team Obama seems to think every little bit of publicity helps. Liberal media outlets predictably lavished praise on the Funny or Die appearance. ABC’s Diane Sawyer hailed it as “a bold move.”
“Bold”? More like “ribald.” Or “unworthy,” “demeaning” and “unseemly.”
The office of president of the United States comes with a high expectation of dignity. The president’s yukking it up on a nightclub comic’s webisode obliterates the air of gravity and prestige that the leader of the free world ought to travel in at all times.
Many of us remember when Bill Clinton played his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992. Or when Richard Nixon looked comically square on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1968. Presidential candidates have been known to dip their toes into American pop culture. But that’s almost always when they’re campaigning. When they ascend to the presidency, they’re expected to tend to the important tasks of the office.
This president, on the other hand, seems to have never stopped campaigning.
He doesn’t appear particularly fond of White House press conferences, but he seems much easier to book on talk shows. He’s danced with Ellen DeGeneres. He’s swapped jokes with Jay Leno. He’s chatted with the women on The View. Jon Stewart got him. Jimmy Fallon got him. David Letterman got him.
Can our nation, and a world in crisis, borrow him for a couple minutes of consequence?
At least one of Galifianakis’ intentionally cringe-worthy questions hit harder than the usual softballs Obama is thrown by the Washington press corps.
“Have you heard of the Affordable Care Act?” Obama asks after more than three minutes of banter.
“Oh yeah, I heard about that,” Galifianakis replies. ”That’s the thing that doesn’t work. Why would you get the guy who created the (failed digital music player) Zune to make your website?”
But the hip humor only obscures Obamacare’s onerousness. Why is the president still having to work so hard – after millions of taxpayer dollars spent on promotions and advertisements – to sell something the country supposedly is clamoring for, and was led to believe would sell itself?
About 4.2 million have signed up for Obamacare so far. The administration is hoping for 6 million.
This isn’t governing. It’s wall-to-wall public relations.
Obama’s celebrity-aided sales pitch dragged on Wednesday as former boy-band singer Lance Bass was conspicuously welcomed to the White House to discuss health-care reform.
Maybe next, CBS can work the president into the series finale of How I Met Your Mother.