The President in Your Garage: Obama’s Off-Beat Communications Strategy

He may be a lame duck, but President Obama is gunning for cool.

June 23, 2015, 4:26 PM

— -- He may be a lame duck, but President Obama just might be aiming to be the coolest commander-in-chief ever.

And sometimes that entails hanging out in some dude’s garage.

President Obama sat down amid the clutter of cardboard boxes and old posters to guest star on a podcast indelicately titled, “WTF With Marc Maron,” taped in the host’s garage in California.

Turns out, the president doesn’t need a podium bearing the presidential seal to make major news. His comments on racism in America -- including his out-and-out use of the n-word -- made headlines. According to the White House, though the "extended candid conversation" was planned, the president's use of the epithet wasn't.

As he enters the final two years of his presidency, Obama is using some offbeat strategies to get attention. He has sat down with some less-than-professional interviewers: the host of a show named for its proximity to plants, the editor of a publication best known for “listicles,” even a girl known to slurp cereal from a bathtub.

And his interviewers, including Maron, have seemed a little incredulous at his White House’s unorthodox comms strategy:

“I can’t really understand how this is happening,” Mamon said on the podcast released Monday. “It’s just going to be me and President Barack Obama -- in my garage! ... It’s crazy.”

Today is @POTUS day on @WTFpod! He’s the President! Good talk! Do it up!

— marc maron (@marcmaron) June 22, 2015

“If I thought to myself that when I was in college that I would be in a garage a couple of miles from where I was living, doing an interview ... with a comedian -- I think that’s a pretty hard scenario,” the president told him during what can best be described as a bro-to-bro convo. “I went with it, I rolled with it!”

It all started with Obama promoting the Affordable Care Act on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.”

He was hoping the millennial-friendly platform would attract the young people that desperately needed.

When critics slammed Obama’s deadpan interview as un-presidential, then-Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, "the President's interview with Zach Galifianakis ... was designed to reach Americans where they live.”

And to a certain extent, the video, filmed in front of a black backdrop in the White House’s Diplomatic Room, seemed to do the trick. was the number one referring website to the following day.

And who could forget Obama’s meet-up with those YouTube stars, including the green-lipped Glozelle Green, who in one hit video ate cereal from a bathtub (while bathing in it).

In his interview with Glozelle, the president discussed same-sex marriage, re-instating diplomatic relations with Cuba, violence by law enforcement -- and gently corrected his mortified interviewer, who mistakenly called Michelle Obama “the First Wife.”

And then, the ultimate viral moment: Obama made a video for BuzzFeed -- an outlet he’d once jokingly compared to “something I did in college around 2 a.m.”

Somehow, he blended serious discussion -- the accidental death of ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller, drug crimes and his initial reluctance to support same-sex marriage -- with a few not-so-dignified antics, like shooting funny-face selfies, doodling a photo of the first lady and miming a basketball shot:

Even as Washington insiders are beginning to pay less and less attention, President Obama is determined to command not only the military, but the political spotlight as well.

Heck, he’s even created his own Twitter account.

Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.

— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015

Now we’re all wondering, what media hijinks are next for @POTUS?

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