"What a remarkable moment in TV history," said David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun. With his precedent-setting appearance on "The Tonight Show," President Obama "skillfully used the late-night entertainment venue for his own political agenda with full cooperation from" Jay Leno. (watch the video, or read the transcript) Aside from a few harmless barbs in Leno's monologue, NBC "essentially handed the show over" and let Obama use it as his personal soapbox.
Obama must be desperate to diminish the office of the president so shamelessly, said Patrick McCain in Right Pundits. Going on Leno and making public his picks in the NCAA basketball tournament were transparent attempts by the president to look like a regular guy. It's now clear that Obama knows he has blown his political capital in eight disastrous weeks, so his only hope is to "change the subject."
"Never mind all the prattle about whether Obama diminished the presidency," said Lee Siegel in The Daily Beast. With the country "spinning out of control," Obama got the nation's undivided attention for 30 minutes, simultaneously boosting his own gravitas and putting himself outside of Washington, looking in with the rest of us. And he showed that he can ease us through our fears to sleep—"that's not nothing."