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Media Cover Obama Like He’s Ultimate A-List Celebrity

For the national media, Barack Obama isn’t merely the president of the United States. He’s so much more than that.

Obama is a celebrity, and he and his family are covered that way. That means there is a heavy focus on the personal, making Obama the first “Entertainment Tonight president.”

First, it was Michelle’s wardrobe. Then, it was the kids’ school. Then it was Michelle’s White House vegetable garden. And most recently, it is the new dog, Bo.

As befitting the pet of an international celebrity, Bo-mania is an international phenomenon. AFP, the French news agency, reported Tuesday a “surge of interest in the pedigree in Britain,” after the announcement about the Obamas’ new Portuguese water dog.

“We frequently see the popularity of certain breeds soar once people have seen them being bought by their favorite celebrities,” said a spokeswoman for Britain’s Kennel Club.

Note that the Kennel Club spokeswoman said “celebrities.” First the Beckhams, then the Osbournes and now the Obamas. But you would have to be more than a little naive to believe that the White House isn’t helping feed the media beast. Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzia’s April 12 piece showed that the White House had orchestrated a series of “exclusives,” giving the garden story to the New York Times and the dog story to the Post.

It’s hard to know what hard news story the public relations folks inside the administration will think of next. Maybe re-paint the kids’ rooms? How about new bikes for the whole family? That’s sure to be a big story. There are a lot of bike riders around the country, and bicycling involves physical fitness and the environment at the same time.

I know there isn’t much happening in the world these days — other than the North Koreans exporting their nuclear technology to the Middle East, growing authoritarianism in South America and the budget deficit — so it’s understandable that the media are so locked in on the Obamas.

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot. The media are paying plenty of attention to those pirates off the coast of Somalia. You know, those swashbuckling romantic heroes who evoke memories of great pirates of the past, including Tyrone Power (“The Black Swan,” 1942, with Maureen O’Hara), Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” 2003, with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly) and Roberto Clemente (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1955-1972, .317 lifetime batting average).

But back to something really important, such as Portuguese water dogs.

If you run through the recent Obama topics (e.g., the garden, the dog), you would have to say the Obama family’s life resembles a couple of episodes from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” of the 1960s. (In fact, episodes 7 and 130 of that series dealt with dogs in the Petrie household.)

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