Time: Educational Obama = 'President from Sesame Street'
Published: 6/8/2009 8:06 AM ET
Time's Nancy Gibbs has found the true home of President Obama, and it's not Kenya or Kansas. "None of these quite fit our blender in chief, but it struck me recently that Obama does have a cultural home: he's the first President from Sesame Street."
In a gooey article titled "Tickle Me Obama" in the June 15 edition of the magazine, Gibbs giddily associates educational programming and Barack Obama as very similar concepts:
The President is every bit as much a product of the show, but it's not just his age and mastery of the alphabet that make Obama the first Sesame Street President. The Obama presidency is a wholly American fusion of optimism, enterprise and earnestness - rather like the far-fetched proposal of 40 years ago to create a TV show that would prove that educational television need not be an oxymoron.She was thrilled that Sesame Street taught numbers and letters, but in an urban milieu with "noise and grime and grouches." Houses that were "not white, not rich" knew this show was for them:
And yet for all its empathy, Sesame Street has been highly cerebral as well, the perfect hatchery for the Empirical Presidency...Gibbs puts all of the shiny rhetorical toys in Obama's bucket: braininess, optimism, enterprise, earnestness, mastery, empathy, and "adult" focus. That leaves conservatives with ignorance, pessimism, sloth, cynicism, incompetence, misanthropy, and childishness. Is she sure she's not still playing "sandbox politics"?
Sesame Street's genius lies in finding gentle ways to talk about hard things - death, divorce, danger - in terms that children understand and accept. The polls can tell a President what the American people want to hear, but after so many years of sandbox politics and childish games, there comes a time to grow up. Given the hard choices, does the President think we're ready to handle complexity and delay gratification? If not now, when? Professor Obama has at least talked to us like we're adults. The question remains whether President Obama will govern as though he believes it.
-Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.