- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama saturation

He was ready for prime time years ago. His oratory is masterful, his expression full of studied sincerity. He’s had no real freakouts, meltdowns, bimbo eruptions or wardrobe malfunctions. And, hey, the first dog will arrive soon. And the White House now has a swing set.

Yes, President Obama has it all.

Maybe he has too much. Or maybe, we’ve seen too much of it, too soon.

There are those who wonder if Mr. Obama is already overexposed, not 100 days in office. He is the first sitting president to Twitter, get cozy on the “Tonight Show” and be seen or heard on average every 10 seconds somewhere on the global airwaves. Could Obama fatigue be setting in?

I don’t have it. Yet. A civility freak, I have a certain wistful naivete that makes me wish the esteemed Office of the President of the United States was not subject to the constant rude probe of news and celebrity hunters. I pine for a line between viable watchdog journalism and snarky commentary or personal invasion. Yeah, well. Dream on.

“For a president who ran more as a megastar 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,” says Lisa Schiffren of National Review.

“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.”

It does make one wonder, though. What would Reagan do?

Ronald Reagan was a professional actor before he became a politician, hero and uber-statesman. And it is worth pondering what Mr. Reagan — or Mr. Eisenhower or Mr. Roosevelt or even Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Washington — would have done when confronting the open maw of not communism or redcoats but predatory press and a disquieting public appetite.

Scary talk

Almost eight years have passed since Sept. 11. Perhaps public fear of the economy has supplanted fears of Osama bin Laden, though that might be tempered if we all sat down and listened to, say, Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten” or read up on rumors that Middle Eastern “terrorists” disguised as Hispanics have been reported along our southern border.

Still, the lexicon of diplomacy looks like it’s getting scrubbed.

Newly minted Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is setting a clear lead.

Terrorism — the dreaded t-word — is always a threat, she admitted in an interview with Der Speigel. The German magazine asked her why she never used the term “terrorism” in her first appearance before Congress.

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