It's all the buzz around here on the Burbank lot; the President is coming! It's not his first time on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno; he was here during campaign appearances when he was just a candidate. In this picture from 2007, you can see the future President isn't even wearing a tie...
But it WILL be, according to the Tonight Show people, the first time a sitting President will be interviewed on a late night talk show. In the New York Times blog The Caucus, Helene Cooper writes,
"Will he be funny? “As funny as the times allow,” the official said.
Presidential candidates often appear on television shows when they’re trying to get elected, but once successful, it is rare to find a commander in chief appearing on TV shows except as joke fodder. President Bush did show up on NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” last year, but it was in a taped appearance in which he voiced support for a contestant who had served three tours of duty in Iraq."
One person who commented on the blog questioned the appearance as a late-night first: "...didn’t Nixon appear on Laugh-In and say “Sock it to me?!” back in the late 60s or early 70s?"
Phil Rosenthal reminds us today in the Chicago Tribune:
"Presidents go where their constituents are. President George W. Bush showed up on NBC's "Deal or No Deal" last year with taped encouragement for an Iraq vet. President Gerald Ford filmed clips for "Saturday Night Live" when his spokesman hosted in 1976. President Bill Clinton fielded a query on undies from the daughter of an NBC reporter on MTV in 1994."
Who could forget the Boxers or Briefs question? (and for the record, Obama refused to answer that question, but said, "whichever one it is, I look good in 'em!")
But some question the protocol of the President appearing on a late night entertainment show. Some of the comments on the New York Times blog say it's "demeaning," and, "Very disappointing - a real degaradation of the presidency. When running for office, the candidate needs the audience that the show provides. Mr. President, if you have anything you would like to say, we will all listen." One even suggested the President try out for Dancing with the Stars.
But others say they agree with the effort to reach "everyman:" "I really don’t think that Obama thinks that appearing on television shows is beneath him. I think he is really and truly one of us, a citizen who is working for his people and his country. And that is truly refreshing…"
The LA times story today echoes the sentiment that these are unusual times that call for "unconventional" ways to get the message out:
"...for Obama the unconventional appearance is a risk worth taking -- and not just because Leno, as the top-ranked host in his TV time slot, draws 5 million nightly viewers. The president, who remains personally popular despite growing questions about his policies, is banking on the chance to broaden his audience beyond cable news junkies and political elites, appealing to those who don't already know the intricacies of his budget blueprint and healthcare overhaul plan. "That's the group he needs to convince that he's doing a good job and his budget makes sense," said Darrell M. West, a Brookings Institution expert on the intersection of politics and celebrity."
From Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke appearing on 60 minutes to the President on late-night talk ... there is a lot of uncharted territory ahead!
And here's another first...
I'll be poking around on the lot to see what's going on down at the Tonight Show tomorrow and Thursday in preparation for the President's visit. Keep your fingers crossed I won't get kicked off the lot (I WAS actually escored off the Tonight Show stage once ... that's another story for another time, however) and I'll keep you posted!