When Joshua called me last week and told me that a Barack Obama’s video on Between Two Ferns, I decided the give it a watch. It was very funny and in general it seems like all of Zach Galifianakis’ interviews are done with a great deal of fun in mind. Most of the time, it seems like he interviews celebrities, but think when he interviews the President my ears perk up a little more. But I wish I didn’t laugh.
He visited the show in order to plug the Affordable Care Act. Its enrollment ends at the end of this month, and Obama’s trying to reach the demographic that thinks it is invincible (mainly because the insurance act needs young people, most likely views of Between Two Ferns, in order to keep insurance rates low). Obama’s most important piece of legislation (that somehow made it through this gridlocked Congress) needs to succeed.
Even though the whole thing is a huge sell out to huge insurance companies because it requires us all to tithe to the great behemoths, the importance of health care for the least of these is paramount. People are dying without it, and it’s about time the U.S. has some laws that the rest of the “developed” world does. The propaganda against it, the fake news stories that declare it’s hurting individuals, and how it kills small businesses—all of that, for me anyway, is just blather. It’s not good policy, but it is still helping millions of Americans who need the help.
For Obama, this legislation needs to succeed is that 2016 is coming soon and his presidency is going to end. For a president and anyone who is approaching their death to leave behind a legacy is important. Obama will be remembered not just as the first black president (Galifianakis joked he’d be the last), but also as the one who took a step in serious, and needed, health care reform.
Presidents as of late have often appeared on the late night circuit—Tricky Dick famously appeared on Laugh-In. Policy and legacy are important, but with a mid-to-low 40s approval rating (WSJ/NBC is saying it is at a record low), the President also needs to gain some popularity.
As a consumer and a citizen, I couldn’t help but see his ulterior motives, but I don’t think it was hidden really from us. I think that’s OK. What isn’t so great is the fact that the U.S., in particular millennials that he’s targeting, might be more entertained by his interview then the policy he’s promoting. But moreover, it’s a frustrating reality that the opiate that the people are consuming isn’t just TV entertainment, it’s actual entertainment that has the President right on it. And why would we pay attention? Our leaders are useless for our cause–we might not even know whot he President is before long. And then Kevin Bacon makes fun of us! It seems like we’re the most self-hated and needlessly criticized generation!
For me, at least at this juncture, I’ll remember this President more for his drone warfare policy, his inability to seriously affect fracking, his (and now I credit him with it) quagmire war in Afghanistan, bowing his knees to both the conservative in Congress and corporate America (insurance companies included, of course), and the persistent lack of jobs. And for the rest of the generation? That’s why he’ll be so forgettable. Same old, same old.
Obama isn’t the only one to blame—the abysmal Congress (with an approval rating in the teen) has its fair share to blame, as well as the G.O.P. who is addicted to Koch, and the general state of one percent worship among libertarians and Tea Party loyalists alike. But a leaders does his job by convincing others of something, Obama seems to annoy the people in Congress and disillusion his electorate more than anything.
But truly, it is the millenials that can enjoy and laugh at their spineless, lying president, while watching a stagnant Congress get paid way more than them for doing nothing, as corporate interests fuel policy. I don’t blame them, of course, this president said he would being hope, and so far is succeeding with ill-executed domestic policy and ill-informed policy. We’re still unemployed and drowning in debt.
The President isn’t to blame for the crisis in Ukraine , nor is he burdened with the numerous problems that flood the Middle East (but private interests, especially in the oil lobby, are calculated the costs of manufacturing a war in the Middle East as we speak). His new policy of isolationism is a welcome change to his predecessor, but considering the shambles that the C.I.A. is in, it’s no surprise that the President doesn’t want to intervene anywhere—Maureen Dowd even asked the pointed question, Was the C.I.A. too busy spying on the Senate to spy on Russia?
But this is the world that we live in, and as the suffering continues around it, eyes are on the former self-proclaimed Messiah (or Great Satan, depending on who you talk to). The Reagan, Clinton, and Bush eras of American exceptionalism don’t help Obama’s presidency look too great in a world in shambles.
Ultimately, I can’t hide the fact that I’m disappointed with him, but I suppose I’ll just laugh along with the rest of the country.
Repeatedly, Paul and Jesus, not to mention Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, warn that the leaders of this world are going to disappoint and disillusion us. If we are looking for a Savior, Obama isn’t it. But that didn’t stop me from being tricked into hoping for Hope to prevail yet again. I have Jesus to look to, to inspire me, to fill me, and to lead me. Awaiting his Resurrection this Lenten season is even harder as I watch the President make fun of a white guy’s ups.