By not attending the Gridiron Dinner, being a guest on Leno, and working (in his own home) sans jacket and tie, the president shows that he is not an elitist ["Obama's Jay Leno Tonight Show Gig Will Diminish His Presidency," usnews.com], which ironically is what those on the right had accused him of during the campaign. In these ways the president's behavior suggests that he represents the people, not just the wealthy and privileged, but all the people. During his tenure in the Oval Office I would guess we'd see President Obama change many more rules, and it is my opinion that such change is long overdue. He ran as the candidate for change, and he is delivering on that promise. I'm not certain why such behavior would garner criticism, unless Mary Kate Cary, former speech writer for Bush #41, your disagreements with the president are purely ideological.
Comment by R . J . Sussman of IL
The thing is, Obama doesn't need to show he's a fun-loving, "regular guy." Going on a show like Leno's is something stiffs like [Richard] Nixon or [Michael] Dukakis would have benefited from. At a time when doubts are creeping in over Obama's executive mettle, he needs to project some gravitas, not the ability to yuck it up with a Hollywood celebrity. Obama is not going to get by for four years based solely on his looks and charm. He needs to show that there's more to him than that. Doing stuff like this only reinforces the doubts that are settling in around him.
Comment by Conrad of MA
[Obama] knows how important it is to build a relationship with average Americans. What better way to get his message out to the average American? He is taking a proactive role and going after the people who need the most convincing. Going to an ultra-exclusive banquet where every person in attendance is at least "comfortable" in this new economy would not only be pointless, but hypocritical. So, good call, president. And to think he is going to bomb on Leno is ridiculous. He is the President of the United States of America. What could he be afraid of? Sure, this would be a bad choice for Bush Jr., but only because that guy was a constant source of solecisms. Obama won the majority of our country with oration, so I think he can handle Leno.
Comment by Steve of WY
The president would be better served doing things that build back the respect the office has lost over the last several years. He has an opportunity to change the way America has come to view politics and politicians and restore some respect to the presidency. Why waste it on some dumb TV show? The Tonight Show is entertainment and I don't see how my president is entertainment. He's not in office to entertain me, he's there to work and restore America.
Comment by Phil of WA
President Obama has a much better sense of humor than President Bush unless you want to count the biggest joke of all, his presidency. Despite your claim that President Obama is somehow denigrating his office by appealing to "... the Gridiron, times ten," I see it as an appearance to millions and millions of people who are not allowed into the circles of the Washington elite. Good for him. Instead of witnessing a disingenuous smirk from a man who probably has his shoes tied for him, we may just see a real human being with real emotions in our highest office. We desperately need it.
Comment by TD Pittsford of CA