It’s no secret that President Obama is making a big push to mobilize the youth vote for his reelection in November, and that he’s got his work cut out for him. Many of the young voters who made his victory possible in 2008 seem less fired up about this election year. We suspect that’s why Obama’s returning to the kind of appearances that gave him cred among that demo in the first place. Over the weekend, he appeared, via video, at Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival in Philadelphia. And today, he’s going viral online with a video promo that looks a lot like an appeal to the stoner vote.
“Listen, I need to know if you’re onboard,” the president says to an unseen party on the phone — after dialing a number he has apparently memorized. “OK, good, ’cause I’m counting on you. Everybody is. We have to get this right, so there’s a lot at stake here. Just remember that I’m trusting you on this, and I’ll see you there.”
He sounds more like he’s giving a speech to all of America’s youth rather than chatting with someone on the phone, and the soaring music that plays behind him doesn’t help. Then the scene flips to the other side of the conversation. As Kal Penn hangs up the phone, John Cho asks, “Dude, who was that? Sounded intense.” A dazed Penn says, “The president,” to which Cho responds thoughtfully, “Sweet.”
And no, there is no weed in sight, nor does Neil Patrick Harris appear, but the junk food, living room setting and sounds of a cartoon playing on the TV certainly imply that this is not the Kal Penn who worked in the White House as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement after leaving House M.D. Nope, Obama rang up his buddy Kumar.
So what’s the strategy here? We’re pretty sure any marijuana-smoking, cartoon-loving kid is already much more likely to support Obama than his straight-laced Mormon opponent. This looks more like a plea for marijuana-smoking, cartoon loving kids to get off their couches for a few minutes in November to vote. Or at least to tune in on Thursday night to watch Penn host a live-stream of his speech at the Democratic National Convention. We wonder if that will in any way be as entertaining to watch stoned as Clint Eastwood’s interview with Invisible Obama. Maybe he should promise free sliders and some slapstick comedy for good measure?