And they call it news.
Watch the video, if you’ve got two minutes. First Wolf Blizter ramps it up, announcing "this is the video that is about to go out to the entire world; watch this, right now." You get the sense from his tone that you’re about to see the aliens land, or Elvis brought back to life, or lead turning into gold–something really huge. What you get is almost two minutes of footage from fifty feet away of four men having a beer. (Well, first you get a guy carrying the beer. Variety!) And you hear a hundred million clicks and clacks that is the press corp videotaping and photographing the event. Thirty minutes of the video is of White House staffers trying to shoo the press away. And you get to hear them complain. In case you couldn’t make out that they were peeved, Blizter reiterates at the end that this is all they got to see. He sounds petulant.
I get that this was going to be covered. I wanted it to be covered. Hell, who didn’t feel like they were going to the White House to have a beer with Obama tonight? How cool for everybody involved, and what a beautiful way to end an awkward incident. Yes, we want to be there with them, but obviously that’s not what this is about. We get to see. And then we have to just imagine.
The message this is really sending is that Obama meant this to be for the two men he invited. This was not a beer for the nation, but for the four of them. (I love that he brought Biden. Stroke of genius. Now it’s two white guys and two black guys.) I’m impressed because it would have been easy to make this a stunt, to use this as a political prop, but from where I sit, I see someone acknowledging he has to let the press see for a minute, but then it’s all about his guests.
I just love the image of our President and Vice-President having a beer on the lawn of the White House with two average guys. One white. One black. One an Ivy-League professor. One a street cop. Even though I didn’t get to watch or eavesdrop, I feel like I was there. I feel like Obama had a beer with me–or, given the right circumstances, he would.
I’m still mad at Obama for the financial stuff and for breaking his promises on DADT and not helping with the repeal of DOMA, but I like this. A lot. Well done, Mr. President.