Last Updated:November 27 @ 11:24 am

Charen: Cool Is All That Remains

By Mona Charen

Have you noticed how often the president's supporters talk about the "likeability" factor in politics these days? No longer do we hear that presidential candidates must convey "the vision thing" or "gravitas" or credibility as commander in chief. Not that those criteria were precisely calibrated. Four years ago, many commentators were assuring us that Joe Biden brought gravitas to the Obama ticket, which is a little like saying that helium provides ballast, but at least they thought a certain policy weight was important -- even if their perception was ludicrous. This year, however, we are told that voters cast their ballots based mostly upon which candidate they'd prefer to "have a beer with."

If that truly were the most important qualification in the minds of most voters, we might as well abandon the Electoral College, chuck the Constitution with its complicated rules and just select presidents by liking them on Facebook.

That would suit Obama. When he or his surrogates are not suggesting that the Romney/Ryan team will throw grandma off a cliff or kill steelworkers' wives, the president seems to revel in his favorite subject: the coolness of Barack Hussein Obama.

Nearly all politicians offer glimpses into their personal lives to humanize and endear them to voters. George W. Bush sometimes described his fitness regimen. His father let it be known that he disliked broccoli. Ronald Reagan had a fondness for jellybeans and horseback riding. Bill Clinton played the sax (to say no more).

But Barack Obama, the man who published his first (of two) autobiographies at the age of 34, has cultivated a cult of coolness about himself. Perhaps because he cannot run on trillion-dollar deficits, the looming fiscal cliff, increasing poverty, the loss of America's AAA bond rating, or the decline in middle class incomes. Or perhaps because he is just shallow enough to think that celebrity matters, he has indulged in record-setting levels of vanity during his time in office.

Obama doesn't just love himself, he also thinks it's uplifting for others to love him, too. So he has shared his NCAA brackets, slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon and crooned a few Al Green lyrics at a fundraiser. Human-interest fluff, you say? Everybody does it?

Maybe. But consider that in the past few days even some members of the White House press corps are complaining that the president hasn't held a press conference in two months, but he has managed to make himself available to Entertainment Tonight and People magazine. The world was apparently panting to discover that the president is personally friendly with George Clooney. Yes, and Michelle Obama confides that Clooney is "cute."

It requires a stratospheric level of self-regard to suggest, as the campaign did with its "Obama Event Registry," that in lieu of accepting gifts for themselves, Obama supporters should suggest that well-wishers send donations to the Obama campaign instead. "Let your friends know how important this election is to you," exhorts the site, "register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift."

Unabashed, the campaign also taped a solicitation featuring the first couple's blow-by-blow reminiscence about their first date. Offering small details about your life is one thing, but this is like dragooning the entire country into watching your home movies.

"It was a cool date," the first lady recalls for the ad. Barack apparently showed her "all different aspects of his character." He took her to the Art Institute of Chicago, where they had lunch by the fountain in the courtyard. Obama winks at the camera. "Guys out there: Art impresses people." Then they went to see Spike Lee's movie "Do the Right Thing." Michelle summarizes: "He was hip, cutting edge, cultural, sensitive." Barack smiles complacently and again addresses the camera: "Take tips gentlemen."

While unavailable to discuss the entitlement time bomb, Iran's march toward nuclear weapons (accompanied by new threats to wipe Israel off the map), our crushing national debt or the record-high joblessness among college graduates, President Obama made himself available to the "Morning Mayhem" show on KOB-FM in New Mexico. For six minutes and 40 seconds, the president discussed a range of issues, from whether Colorado or New Mexico had the best chili to where to get a good hot dog in Chicago to what kind of music he likes to work out to to what kind of superpowers he'd like to have if he were an "Avenger."

He said he'd like to fly. Had enough yet?

---

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26 Comments

  1. pypypypyComment by pypypypy
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

    Ha Ha, Biden bringing gravitas to the Obama ticket? (I have some choice words to describe Biden, but I will leave it at that)

    Only BO and those who has drank his Kool Aid and continues to do so, would think he is “cool”

    The difference bet BO and Gov Romney is – BO is arrogrant and loves himself so much and cant possibly have anyone out shine him, hence his pick of, Biden.

    Gov Romney isnt worried that Cong Ryan may possibly outshine him. He doest because, he truly loves this country and has the fortitude to know that he needs someone like Cong Ryan by his side to sort the fiscal mess BO has dug, and continues to dig.

    Romney/Ryan 2012 *** Leadership, Courage and Integrity ***

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    • Mary SComment by Mary S
      August 21, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

      Romney just proved why he such a successful businessman – he chooses the exact right people to surround himself with, he makes sure they understand his vision, and then he gets out of the way and lets them to their thing. Paul Ryan is another in a long line of good Romney decisions. No matter how the media (who lost credibility years ago) portrays them, thinking people understand what is at stake, and cool just isn’t gonna do it this time around.

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    • middlegroundComment by middleground
      August 21, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

      Leadership, Integrity, Courage and Kompetence would add a KICK to a campaign and add a new spelling to an old word.

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  2. wedeyComment by wedey
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

    Obama is only cool when he is around people he thinks might give him big money but so un-cool when anyone has the nerve to question him

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    • MortComment by Mort
      August 21, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

      COOL isn’t the description I think of when I see Obama.
      Evil, deceptive, cocky, irresponsible, ego ridden, self centered and a long list of things come to mind. Only those blinded by greed, those waiting for a hand out or criminals waiting for him to make a place for them in our world would describe him as COOL. Not on your life! And that is what you are gambling when you think he is COOL.

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  3. gileyComment by giley
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    So now, what really matters according to the liberal media is the likeability factor? That’s is the problem, with Obama is all about the facade of being cool, big smile and jib jab. In the meantime our country continues on a path to destruction. Hollywood of course also promotes this. We need some real people running our government not phonies and celebrities.

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  4. godsgirlComment by godsgirl
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    Likeability is the new competence, even in the workplace! Personal excellence has taken a backseat to getting along. That is why our society has become so mediocre.

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  5. LAPhilComment by LAPhil
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    Obama won’t seem so cool when he has to debate Romney and explain to the country why his presidency has been such a dismal failure.

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    • camzComment by camz
      August 21, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

      Those debates will be choreographed by the liberal media friend. I wouldn’t be expecting any level of accountability.

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    • LAPhilComment by LAPhil
      August 21, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

      The moderators may not call Obama out if he starts to spin or tap dance around a question, but you know Romney will when it’s his turn.

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    • Comment by AcadGrad81
      August 21, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

      In Romney’s and Ryan’s debates, our principals need to be on their guard for the expected “gotcha” question or deflections to try to put them on the defensive. First answer out of their mouths had better be to put the so-called moderator on the spot and call them out for their attempt at wasting valuable time to distract from the substantive things that the people need to know and hear. This is time for mature stuff, but we Americans should be able to handle it.

      Remember the primary “debates?” Moderators relished being able to pit one Republican against the other instead of asking them questions about their policies and vision. After parrying the moderator, then they obviously must work their own brand of gotcha on the incumbents. With Mr. Policy Wonk (using that term with admiration) at Romney’s side, they’ll certainly have facts in their arsenal, ready to aim and fire.

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  6. longscoutComment by longscout
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

    Cool? I find the President manifestly chilly ~ the main attribute of dancing in front of his Mirror-Mirror-on-the-Wall while shaving? The man’s snarky-ness far far outweighs his capacity for cool.

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  7. Gabrielle SymeComment by Gabrielle Syme
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

    Hmmm…. go google “obama kissing statue” and see what they’ve done in Chicago to mark where the Obamas had their first kiss.

    I suggest making sure you don’t view the photo of the monument on a full stomach. This is idolatry at its worst!

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  8. nhpollackComment by nhpollack
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    Obama has fulfilled his promise of transparency by revealing himself to be the shallow, incompetent, Leftist, dim bulb fraud that everyone except those who elected him knew him to be.

    When I was in high school, I discovered that most of the “cool”, self-possessed, reserved kids seemed that way because they were stupid and generally had nothing to say. The one thing they had going for them was that they recognized their limitations and were just smart enough to keep their mouths shut except to utter appropriate cliches. The few I’ve run into decades later did not achieve the promise projected into them by their fawning sycophants.

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  9. moonshineComment by moonshine
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    It depends on your definition of COOL. If lying, over spending with other people’s money, destroying jobs, short changing seniors, ignoring the Constitution, and breaking the law is your definition of COOL, then yes indeed.
    However, I doubt that Romney will ever be able to bring Obama to task, given that these debates will be framed by liberal moderators, who are in the tank for Obama.
    Let’s hope that the Republicans can learn to communicate with the public, and focus their dialog on how his radical policies have destroyed their retirement and personal wealth. American’s vote their wallet, and the Republican message must address their personal concerns (jobs, medicare, inflation and COLA, taxes, etc.) and not some nebulous patriotic diatribe to resolve Americas’ fiscal problems.

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  10. joelinpdxComment by joelinpdx
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

    Obozo has no vision, gravitas or credibility. He is basically, well, a Bozo. He hasn’t been given the title “Worst President in History” for nothing.

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  11. bill1068Comment by bill1068
    August 21, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

    Romney is a business man as was I (small business, 100 M annualy). The first rule of smart business is to hire people that want your job and will work to prove they are capable. Surround yourself with the best people possible and you will be successful.
    Romney learned this lesson early and is applying it now.

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    • vevaComment by veva
      August 21, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

      His name: Willard Mitt Romney
      He was born March 12, 1947.
      He was raised in Bloomfield Hills , Michigan
      After high school, he spent 30 months in France as a
      Mormon missionary.
      He was an unpaid intern in his dad’s governor’s
      office for eight years. After going to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, he graduated cum laude. He passed the Michigan bar exam, but never worked as an attorney.
      His college records are not sealed.

      In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital a private equity
      investment firm, one of the largest such firms in the
      United States. Bain Capital, starting with one small office supply store in Massachusetts, turned it into Staples; now over
      2,000 stores employing 90,000 people.

      Bain Capital also worked to perform the same kinds
      of business miracles with companies like Domino’s, Sealy, Brookstone, Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music Group, Home Depot Supply and many others.

      He was an unpaid President of the 2002 Winter Olympic
      Committee for three years. He saved it from a $400 Million deficit. He had a more than one reason to attend the recent Olympics in London. He cared about them.

      He was elected Governor of the State of
      Massachusetts where he helped eliminate a 1.5 billion deficit.
      He took no salary for four years.

      He gave his entire inheritance from his father to charity.
      Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest self-made men
      in our country but has given more back to its citizens
      in terms of money, service and time than most men.
      And in 2011 Mitt Romney gave over $4 million to charity,
      almost 19% of his income…. Just for comparison purposes,
      Obama gave 1% and Joe Biden gave $300 or .0013%.

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    • LAPhilComment by LAPhil
      August 21, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

      So Biden is not only a bumbling idiot, he’s a CHEAP bumbling idiot!

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  12. 58thstateComment by 58thstate
    August 21, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Biden does have gravitas… or maybe that’s just gravity, because he goes over like a lead buffoon.

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  13. liesmaComment by liesma
    August 21, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    Totally showing my own age and giving a terribly uncool comment, but:

    Gag me with a spoon!

    I’m not a Romney personality lover. That said, I don’t care if I love my President’s personality if he gets the job done! Never knew a great banker or financier who had the best personality in the world…if they make you rich who cares if their personality is as dry as dust?

    So if Romney’s stiff and out of touch with we ‘common’ folks, I really don’t care. I don’t need my hand held. Just create jobs…get our economy rejuvenated, fix things so we can once again enjoy our lives with little worry, except if mom-in-law’s coming to visit! Fix it so my kid isn’t still paying student loans when he turns 70…just fix it. If it can’t be totally fixed in four years, fix it enough so we can actually see some “positive” changes being made…

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  14. clarkentComment by clarkent
    August 21, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    Obama=Failure

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  15. rustypatComment by rustypat
    August 21, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    Who’s the “Dimwit” that ever equated “Cool” with “Leadership” … oh yeah, the conniving “Dimwit” that thinks he is the leader of the free world. Hell, just buy pizza for everyone on election night … then you’re a sure thing. Some freakin’ excuse for a presidential leader. He is a total farce.

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  16. LAPhilComment by LAPhil
    August 21, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    Being perceived as cool will only get Obama so far, and if that were all that mattered he wouldn’t be trailing Romney in the polls right now. One other thing which gives me hope is that most of those who find Obama “cool” are younger voters, many of whom are not even likely to vote.

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    • nhpollackComment by nhpollack
      August 21, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

      Ryan, being only 42, is younger than Obama and, I heard that he’s got a 40% approval with the younger voters, many of whom are disenchanted with you know who.

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  17. middlegroundComment by middleground
    August 22, 2012 @ 10:47 am

    It always comes down to the same tired emotional pitch and soundbite: “Republicans aren’t compassionate about the poor or the environment. They care only about the rich and evil corporations.”

    Maybe, just maybe, we have some wising up to the fact that we can’t afford uncontrolled spending to bail out individuals, companies, states and nations that have not been fiscally realistic. Essentially, that there are limits and consequences to spending money we have to borrow.

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