Obama Gets Edgy on Late Night Show

He's not the first Presidential hopeful to say, "Live from New York it's Saturday Night!" And he probably won't be the last. But Barack Obama's brief appearance this weekend in the opening skit of "Saturday Night Live" marks a coup for his campaign.

In the skit, he shows up at the Clinton's Halloween party in Chappaqua, N.Y., dressed in an Obama mask.

"You know, Hillary, I have nothing to hide," he says. "I enjoy being myself and I'm not going to change who I am just because it's Halloween."

Hillary Clinton, as played by Amy Poehler, smiles through gritted teeth. "Well that's just great," she growls.

The zinger drove home the very point Obama was making, in a much more earnest way, hours earlier on the campaign trail: that Clinton lacks authenticity. For a candidate who has often struggled to find a way to draw clear distinctions with the frontrunner, Obama couldn't have asked for a better vehicle.

Obama has shown plenty of times that he can be funny and self-deprecating. This time he showed he was edgy.

Politicians love late night TV, so long as they're not just the punch line for the monologue.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was almost a cast member on "SNL"-- although he usually appeared in drag.

Fred Thompson announced his candidacy on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, even though making that appearance meant skipping a Republican candidate debate.

Bill Clinton pioneered the political cameo, the night he famously played the sax on "Arsenio Hall."

But Obama has raised it to an art form. He danced with Ellen DeGeneres. He chatted with Tyra Banks about who should play him in the movie (a toss-up between Denzel Washington or Will Smith, they decided). And, of course, his couch time on "Oprah" has meant millions for his campaign.

Why is it that some accuse him of being too frivolous?

Bill O'Reilly recently told Diane Sawyer: "What are his poll numbers – 18%? 'Look, Obama, (and I told him this face-to-face) Tyra Banks ain't going to get you elected, okay? You got to go on "The Factor." You got to go on GMA and answer the questions.'"

Obama may not be a regular guest on "The O'Reilly Factor," but he is doing Gibson, Williams and Couric. He's doing Nightline too. It's not like he has been avoiding tough questions.

But O'Reilly does have a point: Obama's star power has yet to translate into a real bump in the polls.

Hillary Clinton went on "Ellen" too. But she didn't dance. Didn't dare to.

The fact that Obama did dance raised some eyebrows and prompted this exchange on "Good Morning America":

Chris Cuomo: "George is this the image of a President? [Is this] what Obama needs to show people?"

George Stephanopoulos: "Well he does have to do a lot better with women voters and that [dancing] probably didn't hurt him. He's clearly the best dancer in the room."

Dancing is not necessarily un-Presidential. Just ask George W. Bush, who shook a leg with African folk musicians who visited the White House last April. But as Bush found out, it is hard for a world leader to dance without making a fool of himself.

Perhaps that's why President Reagan did not dance with Princess Diana. Instead he drafted John Travolta to do it for him.

Obama clearly doesn't need a stand in on the dance floor.

"You got some moves," Ellen marveled as they grooved together.

"For a presidential candidate," Obama quickly qualified.

He's got the dance moves. Now he just has to convince everyone he can excel at the other, far more important parts of the job.