Feature

President Obama: The coolness factor

The president is doing all he can to emphasize the “coolness gap” between himself and Romney.

Even his critics have to admit it, said Brian Montopoli in CBSNews.com. “President Obama is cool,” while his opponent, Mitt Romney, just isn’t. And lately, the president has been doing all he can to emphasize the “coolness gap” between himself and his stiff, awkward opponent. Last week, he appeared on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to “slow jam” over a blues riff about his student-loan plan. Then came the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, at which Obama joked about being “drunk-texted” by Hillary Clinton, name-dropped rap star Young Jeezy, and jauntily acted like the hip alpha dog he is. That prompted Republicans to come up with a new line of attack on Obama, said Howard Kurtz in TheDailyBeast.com. “He’s too cool.” Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC made Obama’s slow jam the centerpiece of an attack ad, snidely calling him a “celebrity” and asking, “Has four years of a pop culture POTUS made anyone’s life any better?” That’s pretty desperate. Since when is hipness “a political liability?”

Hip is fine—up to a point, said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. But when Obama went on Fallon’s show, playing straight man as Fallon called him “the Preezy of the United Steezy,” it felt “just a little bit…unseemly.” Obama may be as cool as “ice tinkling in the glass,” but Americans don’t want their president acting like a goofball with a late-night comedian. “Is anything beneath the dignity of the Obama White House?” said James Taranto in WSJ.com. Obama spends far too much time clowning around with sycophantic celebrities, singing pop music, pandering to college students, and launching into sneering attacks on Republicans who disagree with him. “The man has no class,” and people are starting to realize it. 

Are conservatives getting “a hipness complex”? asked Adam Sorensen in Time.com. They should stop fretting. Look: Romney will never be cool, but that won’t matter one bit if swing voters believe he’s “a sober economic turnaround artist.” As for Obama, said John Cassidy in New Yorker.com, there’s a danger in being too cool. The defining factor of being cool, after all, is that you “operate on a more refined plane than most people.” Since many Americans already see Obama as an elitist, “this isn’t necessarily the sort of image you want to cultivate—especially during a prolonged economic downturn.” 

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