America needs a mountain man

Logan Mcdonald

Last March, Barack Obama was the first sitting president of the United States to appear on a talk show. Since his interview on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” he also appeared on “The View” in July to defend his administration’s decisions while trying to remain culturally relevant. Now that election season is in full bloom, Obama has started a town hall meeting tour with the hope of getting fellow Democrats re-elected.

In this Twitter-fueled age of direct dialogue between everyday people and celebrities, there is a sense that anyone in the limelight can hold an honest conversation, whether it’s in the form of a 140-character text or an interview with Jon Stewart.

But to what can all this frankness lead? Why sit down, look a person in the eyes and be earnest? What good can honest conversation do when 24 percent of Americans falsely believe that our president is Muslim and decontextualized sound bites can force government officials to resign?

The path Obama has chosen, appearing on various popular media outlets and holding community meetings, is not helping his approval rating. As of Wednesday, his approval rating was at 46 percent, down from his initial 68 percent when he was sworn into office. If Obama would like to improve his image with Americans, I suggest that he follow suit with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: Play the man card.

I first became aware of Putin’s exploits last summer, when photos of his vacation to Southern Siberia showed up on various news sites. The prime minister appeared as the ultimate man: fly-fishing, swimming in icy rivers and riding shirtless on horseback.

This isn’t something uniquely Russian though — several American presidents have done the same thing. George W. Bush was pictured clearing brush on his Texas ranch. President Bill Clinton was seen jogging a lot. Where to? Nobody knows, but my guess is toward freedom. I believe that the rugged American spirit is defined by rolled-up sleeves in the field, not some fancy suit in a television studio.

Last month, Putin co-piloted a plane that dumped thousands of pounds of water onto raging forest fires. Later in the month he shot a crossbow at gray whales from a small inflatable boat in order to help with scientific research on migratory patterns of whales. These are the sort of images that can instill national pride in the hearts of men and weak knees in women. These are the sort of images that can transcend political policy and boring facts to show the content of a leader’s character, not the color of his skin.

When the president was on “The View,” he missed out on the opportunity to appear at an annual Boy Scout Jamboree that was going on the same day. What’s more manly and rugged than Boy Scouts?

Obama spent this Wednesday afternoon in a backyard in Des Moines, answering questions from concerned Iowans. He tackled issues ranging from unemployment to health care, but failed to tackle any bears or Siberian tigers, unlike Putin, who has conquered both beasts of nature.

Now don’t get me wrong, the president has done some things that improve his man image. He has been photographed multiple times smoking cigarettes, which obviously gained him some cool points. He also plays basketball with NBA stars. These are steps in the right direction.

But in order for America to return to her former glory and rally behind her leader, she needs to see more. Let’s have less political posturing and well-crafted speeches to make way for more manly photo-ops with Obama.

With this harsh partisan political environment and a myriad of issues at hand, America has left President Obama with a tough decision — mountain climb in the Rockies or wrestle alligators in the Everglades?