Obama on Letterman

  • Article by: DEAN SPIROS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2012 - 8:45 PM

Appearance doesn't reinforce respect for women.

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President Barack Obama is interviewed by David Letterman during an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, Sept. 18, 2012.

Photo: Doug Mills, Associated Press/NYT

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One of the many perks of working the late shift as a copy editor at the Star Tribune (no traffic, a wide variety of vending machine food for dinner) is getting a peek at the next morning's paper before calling it a night.

Tuesday night, while waiting for West Coast baseball games to end, I accepted the paper delivered to my desk by one of our cheerful editors and quickly stopped on the story written by Jim Spencer, who covered the Lynx's White House visit and their meeting with President Obama. A passage from the article:

"But it was Obama's praise for female athletes that really moved [Maya] Moore and her teammates. 'He appreciates us as role models for his daughters,' Moore said."

There is no reason to doubt Obama's sincerity when making the statement, and regardless of anyone's political leanings there should be no questions regarding his commitment to being a loving father. All of which made watching him on TV as he sat down for an hour with David Letterman all the more disappointing. I couldn't help but note the irony as I read the president's words in the paper while nearly every TV in the newsroom was tuned in to his appearance.

Any incumbent president in a re-election campaign would take advantage of the "Late Show" offer to reach so many voters from a key demographic. But consider the potential windfall the president could have enjoyed had word got out that he declined the offer for the simple reason that the host of the show doesn't represent the kind of values the president wishes to endorse.

It was Letterman, of course, who had it revealed in a blackmail case that he made it a practice of sleeping with female staffers. He did so in a bedroom he had installed at the famous Ed Sullivan Theater.

The president is well-aware of the sordid details, and we can assume he doesn't condone what took place. So why not reinforce that point by not rewarding such repugnant behavior?

The "good get" of landing the president on Tuesday came on the heels of an announcement that Letterman will be feted at this year's Kennedy Center Honors.

If all goes as planned, the president will be there, dressed to the nines, to give Letterman his due.

I've got a better idea, Mr. President: Throw on a pair of shorts and shoot some hoops with your daughters.

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Dean Spiros works in the Star Tribune's sports department.

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