Chat show host Jay Leno left us in little doubt as to who was in charge. It was meant to be a one-hour show with the President. And Obama wasn’t even asked in for nearly half an hour, by the show host Jay Leno. What we got, instead, was some rapid-fire wisecracks, presumably, to ‘warm up’ his studio audience. Must confess, I had problem understanding him; Leno talks a bit too fast for me.
However, a Leno one-liner I did catch was - “you know what, our economy is so bad that Prsident (Obama) flew South West (to LA), nine stops” (applause). This was some 20 minutes and two commercial breaks into the show. I watched it on Z-Cafe.
Twenty-five minutes into the show the President strides in, shakes hands with Kevin (of the studio band), makes a fitting remark about Kevin’s suit; and, after a minute or two of inane preliminaries, Leno and Obama get down to the serious business of discussing the US economy.
AIG…Tell us about those bonuses, asks Leno. Obama obliges; and Leno poses a supplementary on the Bill providing for 90 percent tax on those bonuses. Before the President could say anything the show host announces yet another commercial break, asking Obama to hold his answer.
‘I will’, says President Barack Obama, adding, ‘I’ve got a good answer, too’ (studio applause). Millions of TV viewers the world over witness the world’s most powerful man being put on hold for a commercial break. Such is the marvel of television that it can make the mighty grin and bear it.
During the Emergency (1976) our all powerful PM Indira Gandhi, at an interview with a US channel, got cut-off, mid-sentence, by a clock-watching TV anchor who switched her off saying, ‘That’s all we have time for, madame Prime Minister’.
As for the Obama show with Jay Leno, media pundits in the US would have us believe that President Obama wanted to get beyond the Washington media , and push his economic agenda with folks who don’t read NYT or WSJ; he wanted to reach out to the grass-roots audience fed on soap and stand-up comedy in TV. Barack Obama may well be in a spot over the slide-down in the US economy. But I didn’t realise he was that desperate as to appear on the Jay Leno show.
Obama has endeared himself to millions as a President with a common touch. But isn’t he doing it a bit much, by signing up for chat-shows, that too barely two months into his office ?