White House to David Ortiz: Hey, no selfies with the president!
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Far be it from me to defend David Ortiz. Not when Torii Hunter and I are still smarting from this. But how can you keep a straight face when the White House wrings its hands over the bastardization of the image of the presidency, given the full cooperation and track record of the man who has bludgeoned it to record proportions?
For those who don’t know the back story: Every year, the champions of major sports get invited to the White House for some reason. Since the Boston Red Sox and their stupid beards regrettably won the 2013 World Series, and they’re “in town” (sort of) playing the Orioles, they’re up for the big stand-and-grin with the biggest celebrity in the world.
Most people seemed to think it was pretty cool or at least mildly amusing when slugger David Ortiz snapped a selfie with Obama. But the media and others quickly became scandalized when it came out that Ortiz had been paid by Samsung, which made his phone (or, sorry, device), and that Samsung was also investing big bucks to publicize the shot on social media.
A publicity stunt involving the president of the United States! The horror! Then again . . .
The idea of a White House objecting to commercial use of the presidency is nothing new. But the calculus changed when Obama, who is known for being extremely conscious of his image, came into office. Obama has embraced social media, especially photos and video that can be disseminated quickly and widely. The worldwide fascination with Obama and his family has not waned, and companies like Samsung have attempted to capitalize on it.
According to Bloomberg, the White House launched an offensive in 2009 to regulate the commercial use of Obama’s image. Multiple companies, including Ikea and Ben and Jerry’s, built advertising campaigns around Obama’s “Yes we can” slogan and calls for change. “Yes Pecan” was actually an ice cream flavor for awhile. In reality, Ben and Jerry’s was just trying to drum up excitement for a boring flavor, butter pecan.
And maybe we should check in with the most egregious violator of the rule that says the president shouldn’t be involved with publicity stunts. That would be the guy responsible for:
- The beer summit
- The re-set button
- The Greek columns in Denver
- Lance Bass?
- Between Two Ferns
- That photo on the Rosa Parks bus
- All those halo photos
- Dude, skeet shooting? Seriously?
- Every State of the Union address
The idea that we should not get the president involved in shameless publicity stunts . . . I’m laughing too hard to keep typing. And I understand their objection is that, in this case, it was to benefit a for-profit company. But why is that worse than the crap Obama pulls for his own benefit? They’re trying to sell phones (er, sorry, devices). He’s trying to shove socialism and debt down the throat of a nation. Your problem is really with Samsung?
But here’s how you could partially solve the problem if you truly see it as such: Stop having these stupid events at the White House. Winning the World Series should be enough of its own reward. There’s really no reason all these teams have to pay a visit to the president and stand there posing for these idiotic photos with the jersey they had made specially for the prez. I know it didn’t start under Obama, but that doesn’t mean it’s not stupid.
And no, I won’t feel differently when the Tigers win the World Series this year. Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and Don Kelly have better things to do than keep Obama busy while the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate are dismantling his legislative agenda. (Although Cabrera might ask him if the collapse of Venezuela is teaching him anything about the real consequences of socialism. I suspect the answer would be, “I don’t understand the question.”)
And last, because I know you were waiting for it, let’s take a fresh look at Obama’s own personal policy when it comes to presidential selfies, especially when attending solemn events that require the utmost in dignity: