“I don’t know who Snooki is.”
Wait, I voted for this man?
When President Barack Obama visited “The View” this morning, people living in red states and blue states alike crowded around the TV for the big event. In between cute anecdotes about Sasha and Malia and softball questions about Lindsay Lohan’s jail sentence, he fielded questions about Afghanistan, unemployment, racism, and the economy. And yes, the show’s token conservative, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, behaved herself. The best part about Obama’s appearance was Joy Behar’s pop culture “lightning round”: Our president doesn’t know anything about “Jersey Shore” (or so he claims!), doesn’t own an iPhone yet, and has Jay-Z but not Justin Bieber on his iPod. When Behar asked if he thinks Mel Gibson needs anger management, the president stifled a laugh and tactfully evaded an answer.
Obama was not invited to Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming wedding, but there are no hard feelings. He said Bill and Hillary Clinton did the right thing by only inviting close friends and family. “Y’all probably will not be invited to Malia’s wedding or Sasha’s wedding,” he said. Have boys entered his girls’ picture? “Thankfully not.”
But to the credit of the notoriously softball-heaving “View” ladies, they kept the discussion political. Barbara Walters pressed Obama to name the toughest part of his presidency — the “thorn” she called it. “The last 20 months has been a non-stop effort to restart the economy and start creating jobs,” he said, adding his plate has been full with the oil spill, the H1N1 pandemic, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he added, “the truth is, it’s not tough for me.” Obama said he is inspired by American people who are trudging through this poor economy: “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about me, I spend a lot of time worry about them,” he said.
Hasselbeck said the country still feels divided and asked if he’s disappointed that there has not been the unity promised. Obama said yes, he wishes the country felt more united, but he does not think it’s helpful to focus on divisiveness. “The media culture right now loves conflict,” he said. Stories about someone who says something “outlandish or outrageous as possible” make the news, he griped, but not those about bipartisan politicians who work together to get something passed.
Sherri Shepherd mentioned the recent Shirley Sherrod controversy (in which a black governmental employee resigned under pressure after a video of her was edited by a conservative blogger to make her sound as if she was discriminating against white people) and asked him if America is still racist. The president said America has made a lot of progress in terms of achieving racial harmony and blamed the fanned flames of controversy on “the 24/7 media cycle,” which was not concerned about “facts first.” Specifically addressing the Sherrod debacle, Obama added, “A lot of people overreacted, including people in my administration” and said he hoped Americans could assume the best in people, rather than the worst in people. There’s still a “reptilian side of our brain,” he said, speaking of racism, and “if someone looks different or sounds different, [we're] cautious. … There is nobody in America that doesn’t have to look at their own racial attitudes.”
Barbara Walters also asked Obama why he doesn’t describe himself as a black president, although that is how he is largely referred to in the public consciousness. He noted that he could be called a number of things, including “black,” “biracial,” or “African-American”; but “I’m less interested in how we label ourselves. I’m more interested in how we treat each other,” the president said. Obama said he’s fine with whatever label is assigned to him, but what’s more important in the big picture is that he is treated, and treats others, with respect.
Did you watch President Obama on “The View” this morning? What did you think of his visit?