For history buffs out there, NPR's Linton Weeks has written a fascinating breakdown of presidential exposure over the last 200 years. Weeks shows how the private lives of U.S. presidents have become more public over time, spiking upward in 1955 following President Dwight Eisenhower's heart attack. During that time, Eisenhower staffers published daily reports on his status including details about his "bodily functions and the color of his pajamas."
In his piece, Weeks advances the argument that increased exposure leads to less respect for the presidency and ultimately damages a leader's approval numbers. He brings his argument up to today, ticking off a range of Obama trivia:
He wears a size 11 or so shoe. And his wife says he is sometimes "too snore-y and stinky" to share the marital bed... He collects comic books. He loves shrimp linguini, berry-flavored tea and Moby-Dick. He hates ice cream. He told elementary students this about his dog, Bo: "Sometimes I have to scoop up his poop."
Sure, Americans like to know their president is an everyday human being, Weeks concedes. But "disillusionment is in the details." He quotes a presidential historian at Princeton who agrees that more exposure diminishes respect. "If the president is too much like us ... we have more trouble developing respect for the officeholder and we start to find fault, too easily, about issues that don't really matter."