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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next Stop: Obama Fatigue

If you have or will watch television for more than five minutes over the last week, you likely saw President Obama on it for an extended period of time. He has done everything from appear on the Tonight Show, to fill out his NCAA brackets, to sitting down with 60 Minutes and tonight he will have a press conference. This list doesn't even include less publicized appearances like his call in to liberal talker Ed Schultz.

So far, his whirlwind tour has been mediocre at best and an utter failure at worst. His appearances on both 60 minutes and the Tonight Show will both be remembered for untimely gaffes. On the Tonight Show, he referred to his bowling game as "special olympics". This brought blowback from the community and eventually an apology. On 60 Minutes, the president laughed so often and so inappropriately that Steve Kroft referred to him as "punch drunk". Coach K wondered aloud if the president should spend more time focusing on the economy rather than NCAA brackets.

At some point, even a popular and charismatic president becomes overexposed and that time is very near. Already, devoted fans of American Idol are furious that their favorite show is being pre empted. Unlike the campaign, when it was easy to continue to drive home "hope and change", carrying the current message is turning out to be much more difficult. All of the different appearances in all of the different venues is making things worse not better.

The president's job is this. He needs to take very complicated concepts like "toxic assets", mark to market, credit default swaps, too big to fail, etc., and make these concepts easy to understand for the common investor. Then, he needs to explain how and why his plans to deal with all of these things willl work and again, explain it in a way that is easy to understand. So far, in all of his television appearances he has done everything but that.

Yet, we continue to see his face on the television screen. In sports, there is a phenomenon known as a team "tuning out their coach". In such a situation, the coach's motivation techniques no longer work often because the players tire of the coach. President Obama is in danger of having a similar phenomenon with the American people. He seems to be everywhere with the same charming demeanor, but still, no one seems to know exactly what the plan is. Lingering questions about how much it will all cost and who will pay for it continue. Yet, the president continues to be everywhere without ever fully explaining the situation. If he continues down this path this way much longer, the public will soon tune him out.


Anonymous said...

It isnt his fault the teleprompter said "laugh". Obama is just a talking head.

Anonymous said...

Obama's still got a LONG way to go before he starts making the likes of Coach K look good though.