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Anna Nolan: It's not so slick, Mr President, to use your girl in a PR stunt

IT'S one thing for a politician to use a publicity stunt to assure people that a once dangerous situation is now safe -- like when Prince Charles ignored government advice and ate a T-bone steak after the whole BSE epidemic.

But to bring one's child into such a stunt can only lead to a massive backlash -- which is what is happening to Barack Obama at the moment.

Seagull

He took it upon himself to have a little swim in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf that has been drenched with an estimated 4.9 million barrels of BP oil, to assure the American public that it is now safe, oil free and the place to be. But he, or rather his team of publicity experts, thought that it would have much more impact if there was another element to the "swim", perhaps an element that symbolised innocence, trust and wisdom.

That came in the form of his nine-year-old daughter Sasha.

The president and his daughter were "snapped" by the official photographer Pete Souza, bobbing off the Florida coast, smiling from ear to ear. Not a sign of an oil drenched seagull bobbing by.

In fact, there is only one photo of the "swim", as all other photographers were banned. It is shot very close to the two, therefore only capturing about four square feet of water.

Spill

The poor child has her eyes closed, possibly thinking the fun days of Aretha Franklin singing for them are well in the past, as her toes become drenched in oil!

He has the look of an insanely happy swimmer. It is completely false. No one smiles that much in water -- certainly not deep water where the golden rule is to keep one's mouth shut, otherwise water enters one's lungs and one drowns.

I like the fact that the Obamas went to Florida. The state is in dire straits. I was working there recently and the impact this oil spill has had is simply devastating. Not only to the environment, but to jobs, livelihoods and people's general well being.

Now the fact that he went there for only 26 hours (he left an hour early -- it should have been 27) has annoyed some residents, especially the leaving early bit, but he is at least committed to helping Florida get back on its feet.

Perhaps they left early because Florida has run out of decent oil removal and poor Sasha wasn't too happy about her legs being riddled with the gluggy substance.

Or maybe they felt they had done their bit for the southern state and wanted to get to their next holiday destination a bit quicker -- an oil-free Martha's Vineyard.

But he came, he saw and he swam. Whether anyone else follows is anyone's guess.

'Happy' Julia makes me want to throw up

HAPPINESS is a funny thing. It can come out of the blue, it can disappear pretty quickly, it can last a short time or for a whole day.

The beauty of happiness is that it comes and goes. If we felt it all the time, constantly, we wouldn't be alive.

Barf

So when I heard Julia Roberts speak about happiness on the Oprah Winfrey show, I wanted to barf.

The words that came out of her mouth -- "I am happy every hour of every day, because of my family" -- made me stop and truly analyse if this was a truism or a load of American twaddle.

After three minutes of analysis, because that was all I was willing to give this insane comment, I decided she was lying.

No-one can feel happy all the time. To tell people that you are feeling this way is deceitful, uninspirational and pointless. As Don Marquis once wrote "Happiness is the interval between periods of unhappiness".

I used to like Julia Roberts. In fact, I can remember the very day I thought she was wonderful. I was walking down Grafton St, in 1991, dragging my little sister to the college of music for her cello lesson.

I bumped into someone, gave them an angry look, and it turned out to be Julia Roberts. She apologised, and gave me a huge smile. As she walked off, I turned to my sister and said "We are not going to the college of music. We are going to follow Julia Roberts for the afternoon. Don't tell mam". We in fact lost sight of her immediately, but I spent two hours trying to find her again.

Vibes

Maybe it was the special Oprah show on Eat, Pray, Love that had an extra shmaltzy feel to it, or maybe I just didn't want any happy vibes that day. I think negativity is highly under-rated. I'm over all the positive thinking baloney, and I'm over Julia. For the moment anyway.