On TV, it's all Obama, all over

The Baltimore Sun

I'm a little worried about President Obama. It's been 15 minutes and he hasn't been on TV. Is everything OK?

Did he get lost on the way to makeup?

Is he hanging in the Green Room waiting to go on with Jimmy Kimmel?

Sure, the polls show Americans like the job he's doing so far.

But that's not important now. The important thing is: How are his Nielsen ratings?

If they're dropping, maybe a quick smackdown of Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View will help.

Or he could go on with Oprah and give away cars.

What did Ope give her studio audience, Pontiac G-6's? If the prez gives Cadillac Escalades, that should juice the ratings big-time.

One thing's for sure, no president has ever embraced TV the way this one has.

Let's review his schedule for the last two weeks, shall we?

First he goes on ESPN to break down his NCAA hoops brackets, sounding more knowledgeable than Dick Vitale and without the "Awesome, bay-bee!!!" schtick.

Then he hangs out on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno for what seems like hours. (I kept waiting for Leno to bring out, say, Adam Sandler, and tell the prez to scoot down on the couch.)

Then he sits with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes and shows off the White House grounds like he's a Century 21 agent.

Then he holds another prime-time news conference and gets testy with the media, which is always good for ratings.

Finally, standing in front of a TV screen and a live audience, he holds an online town hall meeting that gets 104,000 questions.

(Hmm, wonder if I can grab him as a Facebook buddy? Probably not a problem now.)

And they called Ronald Reagan the Great Communicator? Obama makes Reagan look like a Trappist monk.

No wonder the new prez wanted to keep his BlackBerry. How else could he juggle all these TV gigs? You can't do that with a 99-cent spiral notebook from Rite-Aid.

So far, most Americans seem OK with seeing Obama all over TV.

After all, he ran hard on a platform of change. And he's definitely changing the way the president communicates.

Sure, some may quibble over whether the nation needs to know the president likes Pitt to advance to the Elite 8 this weekend.

Or that he's been practicing his bowling at the White House and recently rolled a 129, as he told Leno.

(And Leno ragged him about it! "Oooh, a 129! That's very good, Mr. President!")

(Is this a great country or what? You think anyone gets to rag the president on TV in China? Are you kidding? They'd be hanging from dungeon chains by the next commercial.)

If the TV gigs get to be too much - if the prez starts showing up regularly on Saturday Night Live or training with Michelle for a turn on Dancing With the Stars - OK, that could hurt him with voters.

Here's the thing about Obama, though: He's not just good on TV. He's very good.

Did you see him with Leno? He looked so relaxed, I thought he was going to do stand-up and sing My Sharona with the band.

Sure, he put his foot in his mouth with that dumb Special Olympics line.

But the rest of the time he was terrific, mixing serious talk about the economy with one-liners comparing Washington to American Idol, "except everyone is Simon Cowell."

The overnight ratings went through the roof. Imagine what Obama could do for Jimmy Fallon's dog of a new show.

Except maybe you don't have to imagine.

He might be on it next week.

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