Friday, July 30, 2010

Presidential View

That was my Facebook status post during President Obama's appearance on "The View" yesterday morning.

Of course I knew that the right was going to jump all over the President for appearing on “The View” yesterday. I expected it of them. I just wasn’t sure what form it would take because as I said, my mind isn’t filled with the blind hatred that the right has for our President (at least not this one…I hated the last one just as badly as they currently hate mine, but I had legitimate REASONS that I could actually enumerate, and it wasn't ridiculous "birther" lies).

I wasn’t surprised to hear the expected vitriol, like Michelle Malkin claiming that "It's telling that he goes to cry on the shoulders of the sympathetic women of The View.” Not that I see what she thinks it is “telling” of, nor did I see any “crying on shoulders” during his appearance. And if Malkin honestly believes that all the “women of The View” are “sympathetic,” clearly she has never heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck talk. But then, realistically, what can you expect from someone who didn’t know that Oberlin is a "radically left-wing, liberal arts college" before actually attending?

I was, of course, also not surprised to hear comments like the following from the squawking heads at Fox:

"I don't think it looked very presidential..."

"It's a move that some are calling inappropriate..."

"Whatever happened to the majesty of the office?"

But, I do have to admit that I was a tad surprised that the bulk of the attack seemed to have to do with “snubbing” Boy Scouts.

The Right Wing squawking heads were seriously complaining because President Obama passed on speaking to the “Boy Scout Jamboree” in order to appear on a popular, Emmy winning show, conceived and created by one of the most respected women in news, Barbara Walters.

Faux News was all atwitter with things like the following:

"I feel sorry for the boy scouts, cuz they would have loved
to have seen their president."

"The president, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America,
had been invited to speak…”

"It's the 100 year anniversary of the Boy Scouts but instead of honoring the
future leaders of our country, the president sat down with the ladies of The View"

"How can 45,000 boy scouts compete with foie gras and Whoopi Goldberg?"

Really??? BOY SCOUTS?!?!?!? I suppose I should be somewhat encouraged if the biggest complaint they can manage to muster is about snubbing the Boy Scouts.

As Jon Stewart said on his Daily Show, "Look on the bright side, the boy scouts will finally get their merit badge for crushing disappointment." But then, as Stewart accurately pointed out, when it comes to the Right, the fact is that "nothing Obama does will EVER make you f***ing happy, will it?"

So, yeah…I sorta got what I expected from the Right…but today the bulk of my anger goes to a few voices on the Left.

First, there was Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, discussing the President's upcoming appearance on "The View" (before it even happened) while a guest on "Morning Joe" (MSNBC) on Thursday morning. Rendell said "There's got to be a little bit of dignity to the presidency," and "I wouldn't put him on Jerry Springer either." (Isn't Springer just hosting WWE nowadays?)

You know…I don’t remember anyone bitching about the “dignity of the office” back when George and Laura Bush appeared on “The Dr. Phil Show”…and frankly, between “Dr. Phil” and “The View” (especially in its current incarnation with Whoopi in the host seat), it’s Dr. Phil’s Show that is FAR closer to Springer. I have NEVER seen Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar…or even Elizabeth Hasselbeck do a surprise reveal of paternity tests on “The View”…but on the other hand, that far more Springeresque thing has happened a number of times on Dr. Phil. So anyone who was NOT complaining about “the majesty of the office” when George and Laura were on with Phil needs to shut up about President Obama’s appearance on “The View.”

So, yeah…I’m annoyed with Rendell…but hey, he’s not my Governor, and so therefore not really my problem. However, as I used to have a lot of respect for the following individual due to the fact that he has made appearances and been a credited writer on (what I consider to be) one of the finest television shows ever made, “The West Wing” I’m deeply angry at, and disappointed in, Lawrence O’Donnell.

While sitting in as a guest host for Keith Olberman, Larry O'Donnell talked about the President's appearance on a "daytime talk show" with a contemptuous sneer.

“Apparently President Barack Obama hopes that you took a little time today to enjoy The View because there he was, the first time a sitting President has ever visited a daytime talk show. Although then President Bush was ON Dr. Phil, he did not go TO the set of Dr. Phil so "The View" can indeed claim bragging rights here. And in our number one story...the highlights as well as the inevitable question, why?”
AHHH….So the fact that George and Laura made Dr. Phil come to THEM rather than going on the actual set in person makes that appearance better somehow? Sorry, I don't see it that way, Mr. O’Donnell. I see having the courage to make an in-person appearance in front of a packed studio audience to be far greater demonstration of intestinal fortitude than a private conversation with a show's host and his wife on your own turf. Also…Dr. Phil’s show and its questions were more about details of their personal lives (spanking the twins, really??), whereas the ladies of “The View” actually asked some hard-hitting questions and got legitimate answers…something we rarely saw from George W. Bush.

Secondly...are you disparaging the news cred of Barbara Walters? REALLY? On what grounds? She sat alongside Harry Reasoner as his first female co-anchor on the ABC Evening News and was also a correspondent for ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson. She was a morning news anchor for over ten years on NBC’s Today Show. For over 25 years she was a co-host at 20/20. She was a writer at CBS News as well. She was chosen as the moderator for the final Presidential Debate between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976 and also moderated a 1984 Presidential Debate as well. She has interviewed luminaries as diverse as Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, the Shah of Iran, Boris Yeltsin, Margaret Thatcher and Hugo Chavez. She has interviewed Kings and Queens from numerous foreign lands as well as the King of Pop (Michael Jackson) and the Queen of the Silver Screen (Katharine Hepburn). I don’t know where O’Donnell thinks he can get off disparaging her and the show that she created and loyally serves.

Then O’Donnell said, “The show was taped yesterday touching on all the obvious subjects and it gave the President a chance to do what all Presidents do...criticize the media.”

Really? I heard President Obama say that “the things that the media may focus on are not necessarily the things that I focus on. I have to sign letters to parents of children who have been killed in Afghanistan.” Exactly what part of that does Mr. O’Donnell consider inaccurate or “critical” of the media? Saying that the Press and the Presidency focus on different things is not a “criticism,” it’s just a simple statement of fact.

Then I heard President Obama say, “"The fact of the matter is that the media culture right now loves conflict. And if there's a story about cooperation between the two parties, that story doesn't make the news. What makes the news is somebody who says something as outlandish or outrageous as possible.” Again, I find myself curious as to which aspect of that Mr. O’Donnell takes exception to, as I find it to be a completely accurate depiction of the media climate in the country today.

I also strongly disagree with O’Donnell’s characterization of the President broadening the blame of the media on the Shirley Sherrod matter, when what the President said was that a 24/7 media cycle generated a controversy and then a lot of people overreacted, including people in his own administration. That sounds like a completely accurate portrayal of the events that transpired…not about broadening blame.

The ladies of The View, rather than the “slow-pitch softball” that “the White House Correspondent” for Politics Daily, Alex Wagner claimed it to be, asked the President some serious questions (the Afghan war, the economy, unemployment, education, etc.) to which he provided serious answers. Was there a bit of silliness? YES, they let the utterly ridiculous subject of “Snookie” into the conversation. But that silliness is what O’Donnell chose to focus on.

He accused the President of "lying" when Obama said, "I don't know who Snookie is." Really?? “The big lie”?? Sorry Mr. O'Donnell but although YOU may feel that trashy "Snookie" is, as you called her, "TV's biggest star," to a great number of us she really is FAR beneath our attention. I couldn't possibly care less about this trampy girl who seems to come from the wrong side of the tracks and talks like she's still in a ghetto even though she's a supposed "star" now. And most of the (intelligent) people that I know don’t know who the heck she is either. Frankly, if she's beneath MY notice/attention, she's certainly FAR beneath the attention of the President of the United States.

O’Donnell even ridiculously questioned the wardrobe of the View hosts...wondering if there was "any significance" to the fact that “all of the co-hosts were dressed in black and/or white...hmmmm..." How completely ridiculous! What kind of racially charged statement was THAT supposed to be??

The only thing that O’Donnell said that I did not take serious exception to (because it's TRUE) was when he called the President "gracious" in discussing Chelsea Clinton's wedding.

I was also pretty appalled by Alex Wagner, especially when she (in response to yet another of O’Donnell’s patronizing comments about the intelligence of the audience of “The View”) said that Michelle Obama is too busy working on projects and “otherwise leading the country” to ever watch “The View.” Personally, as Michelle has been ON “The View” as a guest co-host, I find that to be an utterly ridiculous statement. Also, if Ms. Wagner believes that the First Lady leads the country, I don’t know how the heck she got a job as a “White House Correspondent,” but I know I want one too.  Obviously, one doesn't need to know much about how government works.

I also take exception to Ms. Wagner’s characterization of war, health care and race issues as "the great themes of his presidency”…I feel that there are a number of “great themes” to the Presidency of Barack Obama and the trivialization of this administration is simply not what I’ve come to expect from MSNBC.

O’Donnell contemptuously asked, “Why, oh why did the President of the United States do "The View”?

I’ll tell you why, Lawrence…because thanks to the Right’s overwhelming voice (after all, they do scream the loudest) in the current media culture, he HAD to speak to the American people and try to remind them why they liked him in the first place and that most of the crap being spewed by the Right is just that…crap. And since I know that Mr. O'Donnell is savvy enough to know that, I find myself seriously questioning the motives behind his overt, and in my opinion groundless, criticism.

And frankly, I think it could have even had some good effect.  After all, even Elizabeth Hasselbeck, whose right wing nuttery usually infuriates me, seems to have been thoroughly charmed. So much so that Joy Behar felt compelled to ask her on this morning’s recap segment, “Did we just turn you into a democrat?" In reply, Elizabeth said, "Let's hope..."

Yes, I do hope...for Elizabeth, and the rest of the Sarah Palin loving, tea party brigade, to come on over to the Light side and finally start to see this Presidency for what it REALLY is, rather than what the far right is working so hard to convince them that it is.   Ahhh...the audacity of hope...

For Mr. O’Donnell, I just hope for him to learn the lesson that President Obama said that he hoped everyone would draw from the Sherrod matter…”let’s not assume the worst of other people”

To view the referenced episode of Countdown, go to:

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