Feb 26, 2013

Michelle Obama's surprise presentation of the Best Picture Academy Award this past Sunday has come under scrutiny.  I do recognize that scrutiny and politics go hand-in-hand.  However, this latest criticism is baffling to me.  All of this criticism says to me that there is a "place" for the President and First Lady.  To me that is a rather elitist notion.  What is so wrong with having a popular President and First Lady?

Our government officials are democraticly elected.  They are not a part of some predestined and superior royal bloodline.  Do not get me wrong, the positions they hold are worthy of honor and respect but they are OUR representatives.  They should embody all that we are, including our pop culture.  We ask them pop culture questions and seek their perspective all the time.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the award show mania.  But as my niece pointed out to me, it is a part of our culture.  So what's wrong when our representatives take part in our culture?

Why do we think that everything has separate and isolated purpose?  Everything we do has an effect on something else.  Hollywood has an effect on the economy.  Ecology has an effect on the economy.  The economy has an effect on foreign policy.  Politics has an effect on culture, social justice, foreign affairs, and of course the economy.  The overlap and interconnectedness is hard to describe.  We cannot simply bifurcate always into one category or the other.  Life is not that simple.  Our culture is not that simple.  Our government is not that simple.  People are not that simple. 

My personal observation is that the Obamas brought a certain swag to the White House and to our federal government.  That swagger and coolness has broad appeal and is quite engaging.  By no means do I think they should be deified and worshipped.  But to fault them for being popular to me is small.  There are plenty of policy criticisms worthy of more attention than a 2-minute appearance on an awards show.  The Obamas ascent to the White House has generated an enthusiasm for government for both his supporters and opposers that is matchless in modern times.  Their ascent to the White House awakened an interest in the cynics and the un-involved more than any political figures that I know of.  During the 2008 campaign, I clearly remember Mrs. Obama refuse to apologize for people being excited about government and the electoral process. 

Paying attention to politics and how we govern is a chore, especially with the partisan gridlock going on today. In a lot of cases, we do not even know who our local, state and federal representatives are. To have a President and First Lady that can draw crowds, generate ratings, and have a positive effect on profit margins...what is wrong with that? To have a President and First Lady with such popularity and notoriety that spills over onto other leaders...what is wrong with that? To have a President and First Lady that go where the people are and can relate to the average person...what is wrong with that?  To have a President and First Lady happily participate in and celebrate what is uniquely American...again I ask what is wrong with that?


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