Comedians often look to the White House and politics for material. Presidents in particular remove themselves from situations where they would be directly mocked, but cannot avoid being mocked. Figures like Stephen Colbert revel in making public figures emberass themselves by shocking them with blunt questions or leading them to accidentally say more than they intended to. President Obama recently appeared on Zach Galifianakis’ comedy show, Between Two Ferns, where the President displayed his sharp wit. Critics, like famed political commentator David Gergen, were furious and said the President had not “protected the majesty” of the office of President. Given the current political climate, and the distrust Americans have for their government, appearing on an internet comedy show to promote healthcare was a bold step, but an effective one. Web traffic on the Healthcare.gov site went up by 40% after the video was released.
The move was not massively risky, as the entirely thing was definitely scripted, but it had some risk. President Obama could have been woody or come out of it looking separated from the people, but instead he was funny and sharp. Accusations that the President has somehow lowered the office of the President’s status. The article addresses the fact that, as Gergen mentioned, President Bush’s “formality may have protected the ‘majesty’ of his office”, but it the formality and majesty was used to avoid “hard questions about a catastrophic war”. Majesty and formality is not something we should be looking for in a president. Comedic ability is also not something we should be looking for, but sharpness and a quick wit are talents that we should be. The President maybe have been using comedy to get a younger audience to sign up for healthcare, but he was also using his eloquence and adaptability to remind the general audience that he is fit to lead. The ways the President interacts with the media is always an important indication of the general attitude of the administration, and this interview shows the President is looking to the younger generations for support for healthcare.