Obama in Fireside Hangout: “Don’t forget to be awesome”

Vlogbrother John Green got to ask the president about the purpose of the penny in a Google+ Hangout session. 


Michelle Jaworski


Published Feb 14, 2013   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 12:44 am CDT

President Obama’s just gave a status update to the radio fireside chats of President Roosevelt.

Vlogbrother John Green was among five people who participated in a Google+ Hangout with the president, just two days after his State of the Union address. Other panel members included Lee Doren, Limor Fried, Kira Davis, and Jacky Guerrero.

“Mr. President, our team here at Google+ selected these participants to represent a diverse set of perspectives, and also because they’ve connected to their online communities who have helped them think through their questions today,” Steve Grove explained.

Green revealed that he would be be able to ask questions with the president in a Vlogbrothers video Tuesday. He noted that he was fascinated and anxious about the upcoming Fireside Hangout and came up with a couple questions he wanted to ask including “Who the eff is Hank?”, a question he often receives on Vlogbrothers videos.

“I have no idea why this happened, but someone at Google called me a couple days ago and was like, ‘Do you want to hang out with the president?'” Green said.

The president tackled gun reform, the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour, immigration, the controversy behind drone strikes, and education from the panelists.

But it was Green’s main question that first threw a curveball for President Obama. A long proponent for getting rid of the penny, Green asked the president his view on what Green called a “pet issue.” Initially the president was stumped, but he eventually compared people’s sentimental hold for keeping the penny to some of the pet projects of many members of Congress.

“One of the things that you see chronically in government is it’s very hard to get rid of things that don’t work so that we can invest in things that do,” Obama said. “And I think the penny ends up being a good metaphor for some of the larger problems we’ve got.”

One topic the president wouldn’t take a stance on? What Green and his wife Sarah, who made a rare on-camera appearance (she’s usually referred to on Vlogbrothers videos as the Yeti), should name their next child. Obama didn’t want the Greens’ child to think that the president didn’t like her name if they went against his preference, but he endorsed them using Barack if they had another son.

Obama then used an often-uttered phrase among Nerdfighters and possibly revealed himself to be a fan of the Vlogbrothers.

“The main thing is, tell either Eleanor or Alice not to forget to be awesome,” Obama said.

DFTBA soon trended worldwide on Twitter and left the Greens in shock.

“Remember that time the President of the United States said not to forget to be awesome?” Green tweeted after the chat.

Green isn’t the first YouTuber to participate in a Fireside Chat. Phil DeFranco previously participated in a Google+ hangout with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss gun violence on Jan. 23.

Photo via @scarymustache/Twitter

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2013, 10:19 pm CST