For the first time in the 25-year run of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Oprah invited a sitting President into her studio. Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited their friend last week for an in-depth interview. Of course, as it just aired today, the chat seemed rather dated, without mention of Osama Bin Laden’s killing.
They did, however, discuss the birth certificate drama that sent the media into a frenzy this spring. When Oprah asked the President why he waited so long to release the long-form birth certificate, he said that he’d believed that the issue had been put to bed years ago.
“This came up about two and a half years ago, so we called up the folks in Hawaii at the department of health. Can I just say, I was there? So I knew I was born here. I remembered it,” he jokes. “We still posted what the state of Hawaii provides, which is a certification of live birth. It’s essentially a copy of the actual birth certificate. We posted that, we explained how there was a birth announcement back in the Honolulu Advertiser back in 1961 and it seemed unlikely that my 18-year-old mother had plotted, at the time, saying, ‘He’s going to be president, so let’s pay off the newspapers.’ We assumed that this would kind of go away. It kept on building, and I was amused by it.”
Michelle, however, was not. “It’s ridiculous,” she says sternly.
Obama decided to revisit the issue because several weeks ago in the midst of important budget debates, he found that the media was focusing on the birth certificate. “My general point is this,” he says. “We are living in a very serious time and America has huge potential and opportunity to seize the 21st century. We’re only going to get there though, if we have a serious conversation about the things that matter to people. Jobs, gas prices, how do we bring down the deficit, how do we deal with all the changes going on in the world. We can’t be distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers who are going around trying to get attention.”
The President says that as the line between entertainment and politics blurs, “reality TV is seeping into how we think about our politics.”
Obama also announced on the show that he would be running again for President in 2012, which surprised exactly no one. He says that it was a family decision. “Michelle has always had veto power over these kinds of decisions,” he says.
“I should use it more,” Michelle jokes. “This is an honor and it’s a duty. We take this responsibility very seriously. If there are things that we can continue to do – and I think this president has a lot more to get done – then we let the American people decide.”