Until Tuesday, President Obama and the first lady seemed to be everywhere these days except Capitol Hill. Mrs. Obama’s appearance at the Oscars to present the award to Argo for Best Picture is yet another example of the Obamas invading our personal space. Since storming the White House in 2009, the Obamas have been more visible and more in the public eye than any other president and first lady, surpassing Ronald and Nancy Reagan in just four years.
The Obamas have made 190 TV appearances since taking office. According to IMDB.com, the Clinton and Bush White Houses collectively appeared on TV less than the current first couple. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary have been regular fixtures on news programs and daytime talk shows since leaving the White House in 2001, but kept a low profile during Mr. Clinton’s tenure, appearing on just 36 programs in total. George W. and Laura Bush were a bit more visible having approximately 98 TV appearances in eight years.
With the country in a fiscal crisis and Washington gridlocked over the solution, the president should appear on Capitol Hill rather than golfing with Tiger Woods and preparing his annual Bracketology seminars on ESPN. Until Tuesday when he arrived to meet Senate Democrats to discuss a budget, President Obama had last visited Capitol Hill in January of 2010 during the health care reform debate (not including the State of the Union addresses). Even as the sequester deadline loomed, instead of appearing on the Hill, the president visited a shipyard to warn of the impending fiscal doom if lawmakers (specifically Republicans) didn't support his budget proposals to prevent automatic budget cuts.
In our 24-hour news cycle and social media culture, some may argue it’s understandable the president and first lady would be prominent public figures in whatever capacity. But, their appearances on such nonpolitical shows as the Oscars and Teen Choice Awards are unnecessary and raise questions about the priorities of the White House. Late night talk shows and news programs are one thing, but appearances on the Food Network, ESPN, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition constitute an attack on our American right to pursue the happiness that comes with not having non-political shows suddenly politicized.
Watching Food Network, ESPN, the NFL Network, the Oscars and the like are meant to be a time to relax and forget about the ills of the country and the political landscape. When the first couple on such shows it undercuts attempts to escape the mind-numbing and infuriating world of politics. Mrs. Obama’s partnership with Sesame Street is understandable given her childhood obesity initiative, Let’s Move. However, President Obama should be governing, not auditioning to become the next American Idol.