On October 21, radio show This American Life featured a song imagining how President Obama feels about “flexing” “demagogue” Donald Trump.
“This American Life,” a public radio broadcast from WBEZ and affiliated with NPR, reaches about 2.2 million listeners weekly. According to the website, the show’s creators had “been wondering about some of the things President Obama thinks about the current election and Donald Trump, but can’t say publicly.” So, the group played the imagination game and asked famed singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles to produce the words and music to a song that would explore those very questions. “Seriously?”—the resulting piece—was performed by Leslie Odom Jr., known for his role as Aaron Burr in the hit musical Hamilton.
NPR often promotes the idea of President Obama as healer and harbinger of hope. The lyrics to “Seriously?” dovetail perfectly with that theme, their sentiments seeming to emanate from the mind of the 44th POTUS who fears that everything he has accomplished will come to naught. Predictably, it’s not Clinton he’s worried about. “But I stand here Commander in Chief / And I take that seriously / But along the way / A rogue ripple turned tidal wave / In reaction to what I tried to do / A rebirth of a nation’s hatred.”
“So hear me now / Before the truth gets drowned out / By a demagogue flexing,” Obama continues. “You ask am I angry? / And I’m at a loss for words / After all we’ve done / Every battle hard won / Every hair gone gray / In the name of this place / In a history plagued / With incredible mistakes / Still I pledge my allegiance to these / United divided States.”
The final stanza asks “why”? “It’s a question I / Want to ask of us as a populace / Why not take our time or the weight of this story / Seriously?”
According to “On the Media” co-host Bob Garfield, there is no question that NPR staff make up an “overwhelmingly progressive, liberal crowd.” But in the mind of “This American Life” host Ira Glass, the accusations of left-wing bias are unfounded. One might truly respond with “seriously?” after hearing his words: “I feel like anybody who listens to the shows knows that it’s not, and we are not fighting back.”