The New Fireside Chat

Franklin Roosevelt used radio, the prevailing medium of the day, to communicate directly with the American people and to reassure them during the dark days of the Great Depression.

President Obama, appearing on Jay Leno's show this week, is attempting to do the same kind of thing, using the prevailing medium of this day (if in fact there is only one).

Time will tell if this approach will be effective, but a whole lot more people were watching and responding to his engaging style than had it been a "Presidential Address."

"Town hall meetings and West Wing news conferences do not convey the notion that the president is one of us. Making jokes on a talk show and drawing simple analogies for complicated issues -- which he did with great skill as a candidate – were a way to reassure and befriend viewers. The White House tapped Mr. Leno because he is viewed as the voice of the average Joe. At times, Mr. Obama managed to out-everyman Mr. Leno. “I do think in Washington it’s a little bit like `American Idol," Mr. Obama said with a grin. “Except everybody is Simon Cowell.” (New York Times)