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Obama can't afford an unscripted moment at youth town hall, so casting call goes out to pack the audience.

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Actors Called to Play ‘Young People’ at Obama Town Hall.

Obama can’t afford an unscripted moment at youth town hall, so casting call goes out to pack the audience.

The set is beautiful, the lighting perfect. The President is ready for his close-up at the taping of the MTV, BET, CMT town hall to mobilize the ‘Youth Vote’ for the November election. Called a “Conversation with President Obama,” the town hall will include 250 young people. Leaving nothing to chance, the ‘Youth’ asking questions will be actors.

On behalf of the President, casting website Backstage.com put out a casting call for “males and females 18+” to fill out a questionnaire to include “your name, phone number, hometown, school attending, your job and what issues, if any, you are interested in, or passionate about. Also provide a recent photo and short description of your political views.” This job will be strictly for exposure; there will be no pay. Wonder if SAG condones this union-friendly President getting actors to work for free.

The casting call for the “Conversation with President Obama” was sandwiched between “Bachelors for Dating Show” and “Landau Music, Cruise Ship Musicians”.

I guess this close to an election Obama could ill afford another Velma Hart moment.

On September 23, in a town hall format that was not as controlled, Obama called on a middle-age black woman, Velma Hart, who thanked him for being there, affirmed that she had voted for him—and then said she was “exhausted” defending him; that she voted for a man “who said he was going to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class … and I’m waiting, sir, I’m waiting.” After describing the fear of a new “hot dogs and beans” era of her life, she asked the President, “Is this my new reality”?

Then there was the Mary Stier moment.

The very next week, Obama stood in a friendly back yard in Iowa when he got another zinger from another 2008 supporter. Mary Stier told the President of her 24-year-old college graduate son who could not find work. She said her son had “campaigned fiercely for you and was very inspired by your message of hope” but that he and his friends are “struggling” and “losing hope.” No more backyards for Obama in this election.

Risking the exposure of the MTV event as the staged faux “town hall” that it is, Obama has chosen the appearance of “Conversation” over the substance of any discussion about the failure of policies he has pursued “to utterly transform America.” He can’t take the risk of ordinary Americans speaking truth to power. The truth is too painful and the consequences on November 2 politically calamitous.

Obama wasn’t always so worried about town hall interactions. During the 2008 campaign, he made fun of Hillary Clinton for planting questions in her “town hall.” In a 2007 town hall in Lebanon, N.H., Obama deadpanned, “By the way, these questions have not been pre-screened or pre-selected. Don’t know what’s coming up.”

The old confidence is gone; Obama has lost his mojo. Questions will now be pre-screened and pre-selected for the MTV cameras.

Actors figured in another sideshow of this political season.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) cast actors with a “hicky, blue-collar look” in a commercial to benefit West Virginia Republican Senate candidate John Raese. In the ad, the three actors were set in a diner to give the impression of real West Virginia folks commenting on the shortcomings of the Democrat candidate Joe Manchin. The ad was shot in Philadelphia.

That actors were used in a Republican performance, the ad was ridiculed everywhere in the Obama media until the NRSC pulled it.

Manchin called on Raese to apologize to the people of West Virginia for the insult of stereotyping. Raese lamely said the ad was the work of the NSRC and not his campaign. The whole episode re-inforced Manchin’s claim that Raese is an outsider being manipulated by Washington political players. Manchin is now ahead in the recent polling.

When actors (or wanna be actors answering the casting call) stand up to give pre-screened and pre-selected questions to the President in what is billed as a town hall representing a diversity of opinions, will the media be as amused and as unrelenting in letting the public know of the fraud being committed as they were in the NSRC ad ?

After all, a casting call is a call for actors placed by people who make up stories to entertain the public.

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Roger Hedgecock is a nationally-syndicated talk show host.

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