Country music legend Merle Haggard has stepped up to defend beleaguered U.S. President Barack Obama after meeting him earlier this month (Dec10) and discovering he's nothing like his media portrayal.
Haggard met Obama at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. - where he was feted alongside Sir Paul MCCartney and Oprah Winfrey, among others, for his lifetime services to the arts - and he insists the President is a great guy.
The singer/songwriter tells Rolling Stone magazine, "It's really almost criminal what they (media) do with our President. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not. It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of.
"There are people spending their lives putting him down. I'm sure some of it's true and some of it's not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.
"He's not conceited. He's very humble about being the President of the United States, especially in comparison to some presidents we've had who come across like they don't need anybody's help."
But Haggard admits he feels for Obama as the President attempts to deal with the problems that blight America: "I think he knows he's in over his head. Anybody with any sense who takes that job and thinks they can handle it must be an idiot."