President Barack Obama's first Google+ hangout on Monday afternoon hit on standard fare: the economy, education, and national security. But some questions got short shrift during Google’s video-chat forum, which ran on both Google's new social network and its YouTube video site.
The president declined to talk weed or discuss Area 51, the fabled alien hideout in the Nevada desert.
He also refused to dance a jig.
The interactive chat was the first such event the White House has hosted on Google+. More than a quarter million people submitted questions on YouTube and the White House website. Five people were allowed to interact during the chat, including a mother of three in Illinois and a high school senior in California.
Although questions about jobs and the pro-copyright Stop Online Piracy Act made it through the moderators, PolicyMic.com reported that one of the most popular subjects did not make the cut. According to the site’s analysis, 18 of the 20 most popular questions were about marijuana and the White House's stance on drug laws.
That omission didn’t sit well with watchers like Ryan Hacunda.
“Ignoring the questions that were voted most popular on the YouTube page really does point out how little [Obama] wants to actually discuss issues with the American people. I was expecting maybe a bit of a sidestep on the marijuana legalization questions, but to completely ignore them as if they weren't asked at all was just wrong,” he wrote on Google+.
Answers to those rejected questions certainly could have provided some insight. But the audience should be thankful there was some screening.
Politico dug up some other rejected questions that would have broken new ground. Scanning the White House YouTube page, reporters found these gems, including: “What is your favorite type of hand sanitizer?” and “Are there aliens in Area 51?”
At least the MTV generation asked their president, “Boxers or briefs?”
Reactions to the questions that were answered were mixed.
Some, like Jay Ar, appreciated the fact the president took time to address their questions: “For democracy it was a remarkable day, not only for the USA. Hopefully other countries [and] presidents will follow soon.”
Other comments reminded people that an election is just around the corner.
“If the President keeps feeding us this same-old, same-old, it will be a campaign of two windbag candidates,” wrote Chet Sinclair.
Photo by the White House