“This is not theater,” declared President Obama on the Today show last week. He was defending his response to the BP oil spill, which he insisted was designed to get actual results, not to put on a show. But there he was on TV again last night to deliver an Oval Office address, which is—if any commander in chief’s action is—a piece of theater. Here is where our presidents seem most presidential, talking directly and sincerely to the American people: where Carter described the national malaise and Bush tried to calm a nation rattled by the 9/11 attacks. That’s the idea, anyway.