On the “dignity of the office”

President Obama did an interview with a comedian to promote the healthcare reform, and apparently destroyed the dignity of the Office of the President, so we can just strike Article II from the Constitution and call it a day because, oh boy, there’s no coming back from this. Let’s hear from the experts in presidential dignity (or “majesty,” I guess, even though, really, majesty?), David Gergen and Dan Senor (?!):

Unimaginable that Truman, Ike, JFK, Reagan would appear on Between Two Ferns. They carefully protected majesty of their office.

— David Gergen (@David_Gergen) March 12, 2014

President Obama on #BetweenTwoFerns had me longing for this intv of PM Thatcher asserting the dignity of her office: http://t.co/EQLDIyFyBD

— Dan Senor (@dansenor) March 11, 2014

So, going by these two guys, here’s the list of things that don’t wreck the dignity of the office:

  1. Lying the country into a war
  2. Torturing people
  3. Going to a birthday party while an entire American city is being destroyed in a hurricane and your disaster recovery efforts are being led by a man whose best qualification for the job is that he used to run a horse breeding association
  4. Nuking two cities
  5. Serial adultery
  6. Selling weapons to a hostile nation in order to illegally finance right wing human rights violators in Nicaragua
  7. Rigging low-income housing bids in favor of campaign donors
  8. Funding and training death squads in El Salvador

I’m sure I’m missing some, but what’s clear is that none of these is as damaging to presidential dignity as doing a comedic web interview. You’d never catch Vladimir Putin doing anything frivolous like this; he’s too busy being a man, wrestling bears, riding his horse with no shirt on and, um, where was I? Oh right, the interview, yeah, we might as well not even elect a president in 2016, since there’s no dignity left in the office anymore, and just let, like, the Speaker of the House run the country. That’s probably the only reasonable thing to do.

"*sniff* That seems fair to me."
“*sniff* That seems fair to me.”

4 thoughts on “On the “dignity of the office”

  1. Forty years ago, Niel Postman was drawing attention to the fact that television news was being coopted into the entertainment business and that this was Not A Good Thing. He called one of his books Amusing Ourselves to Death.

    Forty years before that, Aldous Huxley was satirizing the infantilising nature of radio broadcast news in dead tree formats like Brave New World.

    Forty years before that, it appears that the enthusiasm attending the invention of the twentieth century was so great that no one took the trouble to reflect on potential drawbacks; we did, however, have yellow journalists setting up the Spanish American War in which a mighty empire was humbled in an instant by a rising industrial giant.

    Forty years before that, Henry David Thoreau (who lived in my dorm room at Harvard) made the most trenchant remark ever on the subject:

    We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

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