Thursday, March 26, 2009

The facebook president doesn't quite get it

I saw a bit of Barack Obama's live webcast virtual town hall (a rebroadcast doesn't yet seem to be available) on the web today, and I was basically impressed. We have a smart, engaging leader who is determined to use the communications tools at hand to get connected with constituents, of which he doesn't seem to be afraid. George Bush always gave the impression that he was waiting for someone to throw a shoe at him.

While Barack Obama is showing himself to be the most progressive president ever, I do have a few quibbles (and I admit they are based on only a partial viewing of the virtual town hall).

What's with the stupid hand-held stick mic the president carried around. This microphone made Obama seem like a Maury Povich or Jerry Springer wanna be. There are very elegant, functional lavalier (clip on lapel) mics that would have let him wander both hands free, instead on taking the locked crooked elbow look of some cheesy talk-show host.

More egregious was the joking dismissal of a web question voted to be one of the top vote getters on the White House website. The White House compiled thousands of questions, narrowed them down, then let web visitors vote on those they wanted to be addressed. More than three and a half million visitors cast votes.

So when Obama said he needed to at least acknowledge a question that rose to the top of the list, it was a shame that he dismissed it with a laugh. The question concerned wheter the president thought the legalization of marijuana would help the budget by reducing law enforcement costs, and by opening a lucrative, taxable trade.

Obama laughed and said that he didn't know what the question said about web users, but that no, he didn't feel the legalization of marijuana would help the economy.

Not only did he insult the very people who made the webcast town meeting successful, he dismissed out of hand, an idea whose time has come.

Sorry Barack, but you tripped twice on that question.

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