ROCKLAND, ME—In an attempt to convince an anxious populace that his legislative agenda is working and that everything is going to be all right, President Barack Obama embarked on a 50-state, 30,000-town tour Monday during which he plans to gaze assuredly into the eyes of each American citizen, one at a time.
"I know a lot of people out there are nervous. They're worried about unemployment, the oil spill in the Gulf, and whether or not I am making the right choices in Washington," Obama said during a rally at Rockland District High School. "To those Americans, I offer you this inspiring, confident gaze."
Obama then stepped down from his podium, walked into the 2,000-person audience, and peered comfortingly into each person's eyes. After taking 45 minutes to methodically work his way from the front row all the way to the balcony, and punctuating each look with a gentle pat on the shoulder, Obama returned to the stage, collected himself, and addressed the silent group before him.
"There," he said. "All better."
In their announcement of the "2010 Eye-to-Eye Tour," White House officials said that Obama will first spend two weeks making eye contact with the 55 million residents of the densely populated Northeastern states, looking into their eyes and, if necessary, offering them an encouraging head nod. Obama will then continue down the East Coast before taking on the tour's biggest challenge: gazing with confidence into the eyes of a hostile Southern electorate that largely rejects his policies.
Sources said in order to convince Southerners that the $787 billion economic stimulus package is working and that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is necessary, Obama will stare at them with a serious yet caring squint, give them a soothing smile, and, if necessary, mouth the words "trust me."
At press time, Obama was making his way down North Calvert Street in Baltimore, where he was earnestly looking into the eyes of 42-year-old construction worker Paul Hatfield.
"This is a way for the president to get out of the Washington bubble and really reconnect with the American people," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said during a Tuesday briefing. "To be honest, I was a little hesitant about the idea at first, but then the president called me into his office, sat me down, told me to take off my glasses, and looked at me with the most reassuring expression I have ever seen. At that point I was sold."
In the past several days, more than 60 million citizens have had similar calming encounters with the president. Patrons at the Beefside Family Restaurant in Concord, NH, many of whom expressed concern that the country was more divided than ever, were placated Tuesday when the president went from booth to booth making eye contact with every man, woman, and child present. If diners attempted to avoid his glance, Obama maneuvered his head quickly but confidently until he made direct eye contact and held their gaze.
Obama also offered a self-assured stare to more than 24,000 out-of-work autoworkers in New Jersey; all members of the Vermont teacher's union; some 500 West Virginia coal miners; Philadelphia; attorneys and clients in the law offices of Blum, Horowitz, and Mertz; and Pittsburgh native and Hollywood actor Michael Keaton.
"I was waiting for the T when I felt a tap on my shoulder," Boston resident Jarrod Tomlinson, 36, said. "I turned around and it was the president of the United States. Before I could tell him that as a small business owner, I was a little worried that the new health care bill wouldn't offer me the subsidies necessary to provide my employees with coverage, he just grabbed both of my arms, looked into my eyes for maybe five seconds, massaged my shoulder briefly, and walked away."
"And you know what?" Tomlinson continued. "I think everything's going to be okay."
Though recent poll numbers indicate that Obama is slowly earning the trust of Americans throughout the country, some positive effects of his confident glance appear to have been negated by Vice President Joe Biden, who has been busy winking at every American citizen while pretending to shoot them with imaginary finger guns.