When Jon Stewart addressed President Obama as "dude" Wednesday night,
the media backlash
was swift and intense. How dare this tiny fake newsman talk to The
American President like they were old boarding school roommates? The
outrage was not shared by The New Republic's Jonathan Chait, who explained
why Stewart's comment brings us one step closer to the Founders' dream of a
society where all elected officials are known as dude, bro, and broseph.
(But not king. Never king.) Writes Chait:
I think the office of the president has too much dignity. The president is a citizen who serves the public. It is in the interest of the president to make himself into something exalted, a national father figure and symbol of the government. But the public has no interest in this function, which, indeed, can take on monarchical trappings with an insidious anti-democratic undertone. (It's a little disturbing when people who see the president salute -- a military signal that suggests subordination.)Chait's words, needless to say, will not help Stone Cold Steve Austin's 2012 White House bid.
Obviously, I don't want to see presidents cutting their own rap videos or jumping into the ring with professional wrestlers. But at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, out problem is not too little presidential dignity but too much.