Obamateurism of the Day

Over the weekend, Barack Obama bravely tackled the greatest threat to America. No, it wasn’t terrorism, drugs, or even illiteracy. Obama told a graduating university class that the technology that they have known most of their lives would be the end of American civilization:

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter,” Obama said at Hampton University, Virginia.

“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation,” Obama said.

He bemoaned the fact that “some of the craziest claims can quickly claim traction,” in the clamor of certain blogs and talk radio outlets.

“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”

Oh, those crazy kids and their X-boxes and Playstations! Which probably included just about everyone at the Hampton University commencement, come to think of it. The iPod has been around for nine years, but the game systems have been around for a generation, and have been connected to the Internet for over a decade. It would be like having Jimmy Carter warn in 1980 about the evils of transistor radios and album-oriented rock on FM stations.

How did the coolest, hippest President in American history wind up sounding like Uncle Fudd when the neighbor kids play their music a little too loud on a Friday night? And how must have that sounded to a group of college students who managed to live through the cultural scourge of Nintendo and the Internet and, er … graduate from college?

Besides, as Nick Rizzuto points out, it’s not as if Obama himself eschews the iPod. He gave one to Queen Elizabeth last year, if you’ll recall — preloaded with MP3 files of his own speeches.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!