This is Balance?

Reading today this fluffy piece in the Times about how the Obamas are going out on the town in D.C.—”These days, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, are popping up all over this city,” at basketball games, the ballet, restaurants, soup kitchens—I came across these two grafs that made me groan.

Some warn, however, that such a schedule can also carry political risks, particularly if it undermines the mystique of the presidency, the image of power and command that a president needs to enact an ambitious agenda. Americans love the idea of the common man in a position of political power. (Think Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”) But they can also lose some respect if a politician seems too familiar. (Think Jimmy Carter in his cardigan.)

“Every once in a while it’s great, but there’s a chance of overexposing yourself socially,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, a former aide to President George W. Bush. “People scratch their heads and say, “Doesn’t the president have other things to do, especially in a crisis?’ ”

Calling a Republican aide for the single critical quote in an otherwise positive story? That’s called false balance. Annoying.

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.