For the national media, Barack Obama isnt merely the president of the United States. Hes 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 Michelles wardrobe. Then, it was the kids school. Then it was Michelles 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 Britains 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 isnt helping feed the media beast. Washington Post staff writer Manuel Roig-Franzias 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.
Its 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? Thats 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 isnt 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 its understandable that the media are so locked in on the Obamas.
Oh, Im 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 OHara), 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 familys 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.)
Actually, some inside-the-Beltway friends of mine have been comparing Obama to Vincent Chase, the lead character in the popular (and extremely hip) HBO series Entourage, which tells the story of a young actor (not yet president) who becomes something of a celebrity and his hangers-on.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.