David Brooks: Obama Would Have to 'Ride With Miley Cyrus On The Wrecking Ball' to Seem Unpresidential

Barack Obama has taken a few soft-soap interviews on the PBS NewsHour, so anchor Judy Woodruff didn't want to say he was sell Obamacare in less than dignified forums -- like prank interviews with the schlub from "The Hangover" movies.

Pseudoconservative analyst David Brooks and liberal Mark Shields typically agreed that Obama has oodles of dignity and cannot be mocked. Brooks said only if Obama's riding "with Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball" -- where she rode naked in a video -- would it be "going a little too far." That's hardly a visual you'd expect from PBS:

JUDY WOODRUFF: The president has been appearing on, shall we say, some less than — well, entertainment and sports venues, ESPN. He did that “Between Two Ferns” show online. He did “Ellen DeGeneres.’

Some — there’s been some criticism that isn’t so presidential. And the president came back and said, well, you know, Abraham Lincoln did this kind of thing. How far can a president stray and still be presidential?

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. If he’s on with Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball, then I would think he’s gone — Beyonce, I have been drinking, and — that’s going a little too far.

I think he’s fine. I think he’s totally fine. Remember, Bill Clinton did this. He went on “The Arsenio Hall Show” decades ago [as a candidate in 1992], and people thought, ‘Oh, that’s not presidential.’ But it depends on who the president is.

One thing Barack Obama does not lack for, it’s dignity. He has dignity. And so this is not something he’s really putting at risk. And so when he went on the show, the “Between the Two Ferns,” or whatever it’s called — I’m not super hip to it myself. But Web site traffic surged. So, it’s working for him.

And they need the young people. We’re at a stage in the health care enrollments where they have got some legitimacy. They’re not where they want it to be, but it’s sustainable. Where they aren’t yet is with young people, and people who are going to pay for this thing. And so whatever you have to do to get those people, Ellen DeGeneres, between the — whatever plant you choose, he has got to do that.


Mark Shields also thought Obama has dignity to spare:

SHIELDS: I don’t think Barack Obama could be accused of being unpresidential. I mean, he’s dealing with Ukraine, he’s dealing with Iran, he’s dealing with the economy. And, you know, the idea — I mean, Bill O’Reilly, who lodged the principal criticism against him for being unpresidential, is a dominant figure on cable news He’s seen in exactly 1 percent of homes on a given night. Three million people see him.

So, Barack Obama has to — has to — I think if there’s a criticism to be made, it was the failure to sell the Affordable Care Act when it came out. There was no sales program, and we’re paying for it right now, the administration is, in trying to convince people to sign up.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis