- - Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Every time I sit down to write my column, my wife or my son or my daughter will wander in and say: “Whucha’ dune?”

I always say, “Writing my column.” Then they always say: “What about? How bad Obama is — again?”

SEE ALSO: ‘Between Two Ferns’ director rushes to Obama’s defense, blasts O’Reilly

Now, let’s be clear: President Obama is a terrible president, truly awful, the worst in a century (sorry Jimmy). He’s not only failed to spur the U.S. economy after five years in office, he’s made things worse. Much worse. Are you better off? No. He’s also made a mess of foreign policy. His tactic of dividing Americans — white against black, rich against poor, gay against straight — is despicable. And his health care reform law is a disaster. And what’s more, he —

Wait, hang on. Back to my point, with me at the computer and my family members hovering. “Well, yes,” I usually say, “kinda’ about how bad Obama is. But see, you won’t believe what he did this week, when he —” Then they burst in, blurt out in unison: “Why don’t you write something nice for once!?”

So here you go, family: President Obama did something very funny and quite clever on Tuesday, appearing with comedian Zach Galiafianakis for a short sketch on “Between Two Ferns.”

The six-minute bit is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, with the president getting in several well-timed zingers and burns — and playing a great straight man when Zach gives him a few hilarious thumps. The idea to target young people through a “Ferns” sketch, instead of, say, Saturday Night Live or some YouTube video, was nothing short of brilliant.

That’s right, brilliant. I said it.

Here’s why: Mr. Obama needs young people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act (last time I checked, that was the law of the land, and while half the country doesn’t like it, the other half does). So, he’s made a big push to find kids where they live, like doing an AMA on reddit.com, “slow-jamming” the news on Jimmy Fallon, and, now, a “Ferns” segment.

Did it work? Let’s see: In three hours, the clip got 2 million views, Variety reported. Meanwhile, healthcare.gov, which the president plugged in the sketch, got nearly 900,000 clicks on Tuesday, up 40 percent from the day before. What’s more, 95 percent of those clicks were new visitors.

Conservatives, though, blew all their gaskets. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly said “Abe Lincoln would not have done it.” “There comes a point when serious times call for serious action,” he said. Other Fox hosts also got their undies in a wad. “Pretty tragic,” said morning talker Brian Kilmeade. “Inappropriate,” said fellow host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

The Washington Free Beacon called the appearance “dreadful” And “gross.” Laura Ingraham tweeted that “presiding over America’s decline is a knee-slapper.” Roger Friedman, editor-in-chief of Showbiz 411 and a former Fox reporter, got even more worked up, calling Mr. Obama’s appearance “less presidential than Richard Nixon saying ‘Sock it to me’ on ‘Laugh In.’ “

But that’s the thing: Dick Nixon did it, then Gerald Ford appeared on “Saturday Night Live.” Bill Clinton played saxophone on the “Arsenio Hall Show” and even George W. Bush appeared on “Deal or No Deal.” And frankly, Mr. O’Reilly, we don’t know whether Lincoln would’ve done “Ferns.” He seemed like a wryly funny guy.

Still, ABC’s Jim Avila, in full dudgeon at the daily briefing, demanded to know “how much discussion was there in the White House about the dignity of the office.” Clearly not a “Ferns” afficionado, he also asked: “Was it a comedy routine that was done in advance, or was this an actual interview?”

“I think what it says is that gone are the days when your broadcasts, or yours, or yours, can reach everybody that we need to reach,” said spokesman Jay Carney.

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