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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Media focusing on trivial side of Obama, not substance”

    President-elect Barack Obama is about to be sworn in as the next United States president, so it makes sense that he is mentioned in several news stories a day. Journalists write about his political plans, but this week alone, two stories about his personal habits have been published. We learned on Jan. 10 that Obama enjoyed a “”terrific”” chili dog and basket of cheese fries at Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant in Washington, D.C. The story was cute, but pointless, and it left me craving unhealthy food.

    On Wednesday morning, the Associated Press published a new Obama poll. Less than a week before his inauguration, Americans polled in their preferences for Obama’s dog selection process. “”What was the consensus?”” you may be asking, and that’s troubling. For the record, United States citizens agreed on a 2-1 margin that the Obamas should welcome a mutt into the White House. With that being said, why was this story in the news? Why would someone distribute this poll? Why did anyone take time out of their day to answer the question?

    There are dozens of political articles about Obama, but it’s disheartening that Americans are so interested in the petty aspects of his life. Instead of reading up on Obama’s social and home life, citizens should focus on his presidential plans.

    After indulging in the attention and tears of proud inauguration attendees, Obama can work on the plans he has made to point the country in an honorable direction again. Countless Obama supporters believe he has the power to change the world, and while I find that an overestimating assumption, I do think Obama is going to do great things for this country. His policies and ideas won me over, but many care more about Obama’s warm, inspirational communication techniques than his actual plans to take charge.

    Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that Congress and Obama’s stimulus package could provide a “”significant boost”” to the economy. Bernanke also warned that the recovery couldn’t last unless further steps are taken to stabilize the economy. At least Obama has ideas.

    With all of Obama’s plans and ideas for change, why is his personal life so important to the public? It took me a year to view Obama as a serious candidate because I initially faulted him for his media attention. To support Obama was to follow the crowd, it seemed. In late October, students all over the UA campus wore Obama’s face on T-shirts. Even staunch Republicans didn’t do the same for McCain, but with all due respect to the former Republican candidate, Obama looks better plastered on a T-shirt, and apparently, he looks good without a T-shirt, according to a December 2008 Yahoo! News video, which described him as having a “”fit physique.””

    The Washington Post creatively detailed Obama’s build on Christmas day: “”The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.”” This report belongs in a trashy romance novel sold in the Safeway book section, but it’s actually about our new president. Should I be worried about that, or should I worry more about the voyeuristic journalist who discovered Obama’s workout plan and got close enough to Obama to photograph his beads of sweat?

    Unlike Hollywood actors and models, Obama didn’t willingly pose half-naked for the paparazzi . This news story was still popular, however, and more than likely, the general public knew more about Obama’s biceps and beach excursion than his economic plans.

    Obama may have been privately uncomfortable with the pictures, but he was perfectly at ease during his family interview with “”Access Hollywood”” interviewer Maria Menounos last summer. It was cute to watch young Malia Obama begin the interview with, “”Have we started?”” but I kept waiting for the interviewer to ask politically based questions. Instead, we learned Malia’s ways of keeping her dad “”cool.”” Obama’s girls appear precocious and warm-hearted, but what do they have to do with his presidency? He’s family-oriented, we get it. His daughters haven’t been arrested for alcohol abuse, nor have they been ridiculed for their appearance, as Chelsea Clinton was as a teenager.

    Obama may be one of the few recent presidents with a stable family, but it’s unnecessary to completely exploit that just for the sake of appealing to the public. Why was Angelina Jolie a topic of debate in that interview, anyway? As a presidential candidate, it’s a little embarrassing to have such a discussion in a pre-election video.

    As I stated earlier, Obama isn’t pleading for all the shallow news about him, but he has been known to enable it with his earnest Blackberry comments. Obama was told he’d have to lose the Blackberry once in office. His response? “”They’re going to have to pry my BlackBerry out of my hands. I’m still clinging to it.”” Poor thing, many thought, as if being without a Blackberry can shatter one’s world. Obama will have a “”green”” inauguration on Tuesday, yet he cannot let go of his tech-savvy cell phone. Blackberries do not destroy the environment, but they’re frivolous devices of communication that a president can survive without, and a big step in defeating global warming is eliminating excess.

    Tuesday will be a historic moment for the world, so the media should keep the focus on that. Many older African Americans are thrilled to live to see this day, and their words of wisdom would be must more interesting to read about than Obama’s opinion of a steaming chili dog. Read up on Obama’s serious side if you haven’t. There’s much more to him than charm and empathy.

    – Laura Donovan is a creative writing junior.

    She can be reached at

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