Thursday, March 19, 2009

Late Night Talk Shows New Way of Politicking

U.S. President Ronald Regan became famous for his live nation-wide broadcasts from the Oval Office during prime time on television. Even the British are known to use the mass media, with Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s famous radio addresses on Sunday nights.

Tonight, U.S. President Barak Obama takes on Jay Leno, as he appears on The Tonight Show. Oh this isn’t the first time an American president has appeared on late night talk shows. Remember when President Bill Clinton jammed on his saxophone? But unlike President Clinton’s appearance on late night talk, President Obama’s will be the first time a current president of the United States appears as a guest on a late night talk show.

President Clinton’s appearance was during the 1992 presidential campaign, on the now defunct Arsenio Hall Show. President Clinton was trailing badly in the polls to Ross Perot and President George Bush, but after that brief musical interlude, he took the lead and won the presidency.

President Obama is certainly not hurting in the polls – he is the most popular American president of all time, even more popular than John F. Kennedy, according to many reports. So why is the American president doing the talk show circuit?

Some have scoffed that he’s promoting his own style of politics, and trying to sway the American public opinion his way. But he’s already got that on his side – it has even been branded “Obama Mania,” by the media.

I’m hoping that President Obama is doing late night talk shows to build the economy. See, much of the energy, drive, and even depression in an economy is powered by investor confidence in the market. Unless you keep your money in a dirty sock under your bed, chances are you have a bank account – that makes you an investor in the market.

Banks invest your money to earn interest. Granted, the amount of interest is laughable when you deduct all the service charges banks force us to pay, but we still are investors of sorts.

If President Obama is smart, he’ll use this late night talk show opportunity to encourage us to invest in the market, which in turn will hopefully stimulate something within our sagging economy.

However, a lot depends on the host Jay Leno. Prior to the U.S. presidential elections, Obama appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Surprisingly, Letterman rose to the occasion, tossing away his comedic funny-man hat, for that of a more sobering interviewer. His interview was warm, well thought through, and managed to keep the mood light, but serious. Letterman was able to intelligently discuss the issues, without the expense of poorly placed jokes.

Can funny-man Jay Leno accomplish the same thing – or will he be constantly depending on his humour to carry the conversation tonight?

I suppose we won’t know the answer to that until after the president’s appearance on Leno’s show. But for the good of the global economy, let’s keep our fingers crossed, and hope for the best.

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