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March 17, 2014 at 12:05 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Barack Obama: President, Health Reformer...Comedian?

By Jeffrey VanWingen M.D. More Blogs by This Author

Though the government extended the deadline a few months further than they had originally planned, the new March 31 American health insurance deadline is approaching fast and they're saying they really mean it this time. According to officials, the bugs that were there have all been worked out, the traffic/load time issues have been corrected, and Americans are finally getting some real deals on health care policies. 

With the need for affordable healthcare and the fear of tax penalties looming, many Americans are picking up their healthcare for the first time in a long time. One sector, however, young adults, are still not participating. Are they bucking the system or just procrastinating? 

In a bold move, President Obama took to the internet in a comedy routine to promote "his" healthcare legislation. Was this a move of creative genius on his part or signal of  sheer desperation?

"Between Two Ferns"

A few days ago, President Obama appeared with comedian Zach Galifianakis in his interview series, "Between Two Ferns."  In the series, Galifianakis interviews celebrities playing the character of a misinformed, overconfident oaf while the president played along perfectly with a hilarious banter.  While Galifianakis took jabs at Obama's citizenship, basketball skills and gay marriage, the leader of the leader of the free world jabbed right back.  When asked about a third term, for instance, the president retorted that it would be about as popular as a third Hangover movie.  The six minute video deliberately moves to Obama's plug for people to get signed up for health insurance. 

The Fallout

Like anything our presidential leader seems to do, people seem to love it or hate it.  And not so ironically, this seems to happen with the utmost predictability on the conservative/liberal scale.  Bill O'Reilly, conservative Fox news commentator remarked, "All I know is Abe Lincoln wouldn't have done it!"  For Obama's opposition, this performance is an obvious open target.  With this consideration and risk, our countries healthcare reform must have been worth it in the eyes of the Whitehouse.  As they say, "Desperate times call for desperate measures."

Whitehouse advisor Valerie Janet reported on CBS that since the video was posted, web traffic at has surged by 40%.  Is this because of the approaching deadline or the video itself?  Again, the democrats and republicans will tell you two different things.

My Take?

Though as a doctor, I can vouch that our system pre-Obamacare was broken. With the coming reforms I've seen plenty of people with that "the sky is falling" mentality, criticizing without really being informed on the policy.  I've also heard from a fair amount of patients surprised by the ease and affordability of healthcare on the exchange!  As they say, change is inevitable, but growth is optional.  We elected President Obama on the platform that change was needed.  We now have change, and like most change, it's uncomfortable. Sadly, many will not tolerate the slightest discomfort for the sake of change. With hope, though, these labor pains will birth a better healthcare system.

As for the president, I have to support his comedy role.  Some have touted that this supports Vladimir Putin's claim that our president is weak.  Putin and Obama come from two very different places, however.  In a country where people can put bumper stickers on their car openly criticizing their leader perhaps it is we, the people who have created a more human relationship with out leader.  And, as such, I expect any human to have weaknesses.  Having a sense of humor is OK in my book if that is a weakness. 

As a human, I love to laugh.  My friends and I joke and repeat funny dialogues from movies.  I found President Obama to be hilarious when I watched him in Between Two Ferns.  He left me laughing through the entire six minute video and beyond.  In America, our president is of the people and for the people.  President Obama has shown us this in a new light.

Zack: So how does this work? Do you send ambassador Rodman to North Korea on your behalf? I read somewhere that you'd be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria, or is that more of a job for Tanya Harding?

Obama: Uh, Zack, he's not our ambassador.

Check out the video at   

What do you think?

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