Watch a Clever Bit of Youth-Vote Campaigning by the President

Slate's Culture Blog
April 25 2012 12:57 PM

Obama "Slow Jams" a Campaign Ad

1335371550577
A still from "Slow Jam the News with Barack Obama."

Unless you're just getting online now, chances are good you've already seen the video below, "Slow Jam the News with Barack Obama," a clip from last night's episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

It's a fun bit, and shows once again that a sure hand with R&B is a handy little weapon in Obama's campaign arsenal. (Obama has also sung the blues. His imminent opponent, on the other hand, does less well with the singing.)

Advertisement

But Obama didn't really "slow jam the news," as the title of the segment promises, and as many websites have happily reported this morning. (Jason Kottke, for instance, used that title for his headline, and suggested the segment "might be the coolest thing a sitting President has ever done"—before quickly poking fun at himself for that bit of hyperbole.) What he did was deliver a campaign ad with a fairly standard script, painting himself as an ally of middle-class students, and Republicans as the playthings of billionaires. Obama left the dirty work of the comedy to Fallon, who obliged by singing silly double entendres in a gravelly voice over The Roots' soulful stylings. A more accurate description of the sketch might be "Orate a Campaign Platform with Barack Obama."

Of course, while Obama's performance may have been inert (compared to Brian Williams' usual arch delivery), that alone doesn't make the appearance uncool. Merely by putting himself in the same room as a comedian crooning political jargon as though it were pillow talk, Obama takes on an aura of hip knowingness. It's not a bad pay-off for what was, all in all, a pretty tame stunt.

Previously
Did You See This? Obama Sings the Blues

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

L.V. Anderson is a Slate assistant editor. She edits Slate's food and drink sections and writes Brow Beat's recipe column, You're Doing It Wrong. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.