I got to hand it to Jay Leno. He accomplished more in a relaxed, tension-free chat with the president than scores of envious gotcha journalists, still in shock that a comedian got to spend a half hour with the president.
A comedian who managed to break news. With a president who clearly wouldn't break with his treasury secretary. But clearly did break with his party on the congressional rush to tax the hell out of these bogus bonuses. The president told Jay stop 'em before you even have to tax 'em. That was news.
Jay leno got these nuggets without once going nuclear. Or once going for the jugular. Just being jocular. He did it without yelling or screaming, gesturing, or demeaning. He did with a wink, and a smile.
Just like when he ribbed the president's March Madness bracket picks noting one of the big guy's final four was shockingly North Carolina, "A swing state, Mr. President?" Even the president laughed.
Many made much of the president's Special Olympics bowling comment. A flub. Not a sin. Move on. Far more revealing in this relaxed give-and-take was this clear change of heart by the president on the economy. For the first time I can recall, telling Americans last night, to all but go out and shop. Jay Leno got that out of the president.
Not Brian Williams, or Charlie Gibson, or Katie Couric or, I don’t know, Neil Cavuto. Now some have criticized the president in the middle of so many crises, going on Jay Leno, of all places to talk about them.
Why? What's wrong with that?
First, Jay's a fantastic interviewer. And second, Jay's audience is a fantastic venue; far more vast than any cable news offering; sadly, my own included.
Some say a president has no business popping up on a late night talk show. I say he has no business haughtily assuming he should not. Besides, the president, any president, is capable of handling many things, many crises.
I've often faulted this one for attempting to take them all on simultaneously. But I don't fault him one bit going on Jay Leno to explain why he's taking them all on simultaneously. Just like I have no problem with the president explaining his bracket picks.
There are those who say he should be in 24/7 crisis mode. But he has a family. He has kids. He has interests. He has a sense of humor. And guess what? He has a life. We all do. He just chose to share his with a guy who makes people laugh. And makes people think. Even if it makes me and my colleagues wince. Waiting for the great gotcha. Only to discover, we were the one gotchad. Curses, Jay!
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