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Dignity of Office

9:05 AM, Oct 30, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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Barack Obama hasn't been the least bit shy about showing his face on late night TV. In the past month or so alone, the president's made appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman and even did a skit called "Slow Jammin' the News" with Jimmy Fallon. Obama's no rogue in his late night campaign stops, either. Both George W. Bush and John McCain both appeared on SNL during their presidential campaigns, with McCain having done the show just three days before the presidential election—Adam Clark Estes, The Atlantic Wire.

The question posed by the title of Mr. Estes's piece is, “Why Won't Mitt Romney Go On Any Late Night Shows?

The implicit answers is: Because he is a stiff.  Which, according to the zeitgeist, is just about a disqualification for the presidency, right there.   

An alternative – and more satisfying – answer would be: Because he has too much dignity.  Not every American citizen wants as president someone who can get down with the late night crowd and play the tired old "hipper than thou" game.  And, after all, if you are watching television late at night, just how hip are you?

The shows aren't short of people willing to come on as guests.  There is an endless supply of second-rate actors and actresses who have a movie or a series coming out.  This is one sector of the economy that seems to be doing fine and about which a president (or aspirant to the presidency) need not trouble himself.  There are many, many better ways for him to spend his time.  

And, by the way, this is not to say that Mitt Romney can't lighten up and deliver a good, self-deprecating line.  He wowed them at the Al Smith dinner.  

After that, he doesn't have to play down to the level of late-night television.

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