Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Obama: Give Me "Cool" Any Day
I just read a blurb in my fave news magazine, The Week, that President Obama (herein referred to as The Big O because I am in that kind of mood) is "cool." So obvious is his coolness factor that Karl Rove's American Crossroads Super PAC has focused its strategy on using it against him, calling him a "celebrity" and attempting to turn coolness into a political liability.
What the hell is the matter with people? So our country's leader likes music. He likes to sing Al Green tunes and jam with blues musicians on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and most likely other, less public, venues. He was interviewed on The View, where he gently but astutely corrected Elisabeth Hasselbeck's erroneous assessment that he and Mitt Romney basically held the a similar view of same-sex marriage (tsk, tsk, Liz...journalists should always do their homework or risk looking like amateurs). He also admitted to not knowing anything about the controversial best-selling sexual/bondage/S&M adventure, Fifty Shades of Grey, but jokingly assured his lady friends that he would ask his wife about it. The Big O also plays a decent game of hoops and seems to get his groove on by spending time with his daughters. Wow. Shame on him, right? How dare the President of the United States behave like...a regular guy.
I for one find that quality entirely refreshing. I love that my country's president behaves in ways that might embarrass his kids now and then. Perhaps because I have been both complimented and chastised for acting like the person I am regardless of where I might be or who might be with me, I totally appreciate The Big O's blurry boundary between the private and the public self. I respect the way that both he and his wife have redefined their roles as President and First Lady, not by pointedly doing anything to be different from their predecessors, but precisely by just being themselves. Yes, they have brought a certain flair to the White House. But it's more than that. They have brought a youthfulness, a vitality, a quality I would almost describe as joyful to their duties. Yes, they take their jobs seriously. But no, they're not going to take themselves too seriously.
I can see why the GOP is a bit unnerved by all this "coolness." Mitt Romney is to being hip what I am to being traditional. He reminds me of a paper doll, whose commitment to various stances is about as flimsy. He will never be cool, hip, groovy. He does not put off a fun-loving vibe. He is, actually, quite wooden. Great teeth, perfect hair, that whole Ted Danson-forehead/eyebrow thing...but I can't imagine him letting go and cutting loose. He seems so tightly wound, so...starched shirty and focused on what everyone thinks of him (though, admittedly, he was not too concerned about that when he drove around with his dog strapped to the roof of his vehicle).
I am not saying that being cool makes a man an effective president. I am saying that being cool doesn't automatically make him an ineffective president. It should not matter one iota if The Big O wants to jam the blues or if Mitt wants to...flip-flop on the issues. Oh, no wait. That latter part actually does matter.
My point--and I do have one--is that being cool is not a reason to judge someone negatively. Don't like his politics? His performance? His beliefs? Fine, that's your prerogative. Don't vote for him. But don't hate on him because he leaves Mitt in the dust when it comes to personality.
This is a guy who created more private sector jobs in 2010 than his predecessor did in all 8 years in office. He extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. He signed the CARD Act to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive credit card practices. He enjoyed a 96.7% success rate in winning congressional votes his first year in office, an unprecedented achievement. His list of accomplishments is long and varied.
I'm confident that making Mitt Romney look even more stiff is not intentional; it's not a political ploy. It's just a bonus.