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The Dangers of Overexposure


The 13-year-old started spring break yesterday, which meant a certain amount of quality time at the orthodontist, in various stores, and taxis. Everywhere we were bombarded with the voice of our maximum leader, reading his speech, with repetitions at the top of the hour. Does no one listen to muzak anymore? Music? One can only surmise that David Axelrod thinks that Obama’s voice has the ability to put the people in a trance, from which they awake, much later, to consider the specifics of the policy at hand. Or — more nefarious — we are meant to understand that no matter where we go, or how deeply we long for silence, or just respite from politics, Barack will always be with us. Really, when his voice came on in the final taxi, I felt the driver’s tip hinged on just how fast he could turn it down.

And then I noticed this, on the blog scroll on my screen. Thursday night the President will be appearing on Leno. It’s a first: a sitting president on a late-night chat show. I like Leno enough, and he has more of a sense of decorum than most, but is this really an appropriate venue? Can’t the little people zone out at bedtime without the maximum leader’s lighter thoughts?

For a president who ran more as a mega-star than any kind of working politician, the dangers of overexposure are greater than average. Charisma alone rarely withstands the kind of scrutiny movie stars get these days. And it is only diminished when paired up with the ordinary, run-of-the-mill celebs who come on late-night TV to hawk movies or other projects. To be sure, speech is Obama’s talent. But, sooner or later, people will understand the limits of words. For now, enough.


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