President Obama, in the latest unconventional appearance to promote signups for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, defended his interview with Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns” host Zach Galifianakis as in keeping with presidential tradition.
ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd on Thursday asked Obama about criticism that Abraham Lincoln would not have stooped to such humor. Obama replied that “if you read back on Lincoln, he loved telling the occasional bawdy joke and being out among regular folk.” He added that “one of the hardest things about being president is being in this bubble that is artificial and unless you make a conscious effort, you start sounding like some Washington stiff.”
Bill O’Reilly had criticized Obama’s appearance on “Between Two Ferns” as something that Lincoln wouldn’t have done.
The White House strategy has been for Obama to appear on talk shows, niche programming and, in the case of ESPN, sports shows where he riffs on pop culture while getting in a word about the need for health insurance signups before a March 31 deadline. The idea has been to reach audiences, particularly young males, who may not otherwise be watching the political machinations in the Beltway. Obama said that as president “you have to remind yourself of the wonderful people that you are supposed to be serving, who have a sense of humor, and aren’t thinking every day about position papers.”
In another example, on Wednesday, Obama appeared via satellite on “The Ellen Show.” When host Ellen DeGeneres mentioned that her Oscar “selfie” broke Obama’s record for Twitter retweets, he jokingly called the celebrity selfie a “pretty cheap stunt” before talking about his favorite TV shows, shopping at the Gap and, of course, healthcare.