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Leno over the Gridiron.

After deciding to stay away from the Gridiron Club – where everything is off the record, on both sides of the equation – the President has decided to go on Jay Leno:

Obama to appear on Leno – will he bring a teleprompter?

The news that President Obama will appear on Jay Leno’s show Thursday night could be told in a couple ways depending on what type of site you’re on.

More right-leaning: Faced with plummeting polls and Boston Tea Party-like rebellions popping up all over the country, President Barack Obama is attempting to save his faltering presidency by going to the last place that still accepts him: Hollywood.

More left-leaning: With rock solid poll numbers (higher than Reagan at this point in the presidency), President Barack Obama has the courage to leave the Washington echo chamber and talk to the common man.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who notes that the headlines have been getting less respectful of the President lately.  Given the ludicrously over-enthusiastic treatment that the man got from them, it’s not before time. The sooner that the President gets it through his head that he’s just a man, the better off we’re all going to be.

Unfortunately, he’s not quite internalized it, yet – which is why he’s going to Leno, and not the Gridiron. Ed Driscoll thinks that Leno’s an easy gig; Mary Kate Cary thinks that it’ll be harder than the Gridiron. I end up on Ed Driscoll’s side in this argument; the Gridiron Dinner is one of those institutions that Official Washington’s set up to keep its members from going completely insane on the twin drinks of insane amounts of power and insane amounts of responsibility. And one very good way to do that is to sit there and take mockery and ridicule, when you’re not dishing it out on yourself. In contrast: Leno will be awed, the crowd will go wild with adulation, and Obama may bask in their regard for the duration of the show.

Mind you, I happen to agree with Mary Kate Cary that doing this diminishes the President, but not because of how the Presidency deserves more dignity than this. The Presidency is the Presidency. The office is independent of the man; it has its own forms and expectations, and will endure any one individual President. It will certainly survive its current holder going on a late night television comedy program. However, if I am right that the primary purpose of the appearance is to allow the President to bask again in uncritical adulation – to give him a taste of the sweetness of the campaign days – then Obama the man will be diminished by appearing on Leno. I’m sure that those days were sweet; but he was elected to toil in the service of his country, and a large part of his place in the history books will be determined by how much he ground himself down in our behalf. Unfortunately, I see no real evidence yet that he has any interest in giving anything of himself to us.

Which is a real pity.

Moe Lane

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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