Barack Obama is probably one of the coolest presidents in American history.
He reaches rock star status when cameras catch him sporting his Ray-Ban 3217s, which are, for all you squares out there, designer sunglasses.
That Obama owns the word cool is nothing new, but it is quite unbecoming of the office he holds. If his “coolness” is authentic, the best thing the most powerful man on the planet could do is tone it down a bit, so the rest of us can feel better about ourselves.
But he cannot help himself, or so it seems, which makes one wonder if his attempt to act hip is a thinly veiled intentional act distracting us from an exceptionally small man who is in over his head.
I am reminded of a story about a man named Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs — much better known as, “Oz” — in author L. Frank Baum’s multiple-book series on the Land of Oz. A circus magician by occupation and supreme leader by chance, Diggs was raised to extra supercool status when fate allowed his hot air balloon to get caught in a jet stream and touch down in the Land of Oz.
First impressions are lasting. As the story is told, the people in the Land of Oz quickly elevated Diggs to top potentate because they thought Diggs’ grand entrance was divine, and worshipped him as such. Understanding he had large shoes to fill, and desperately desiring to look the part, Diggs shortened his name to an acronym using his initials: OZPINHEAD. Obviously, the acronym did not serve him well, so Diggs made the astute marketing decision to steer away from any references of “pinhead” by retaining just the first two initials; thereafter being fondly known as, the great wizard, of “Oz.”
The aspiring politician he was, Oz desperately desired to be all things to all people. Oz became a master of disguise — appearing as balls of fire, big heads, and disembodied voices. Before long people realized this wonderful wizard wasn’t as wonderful or as wizardly as they once thought he was, but rather a lovely little man more fit for the circus than political leader.
The crackpot left town the same way he arrived, floating beneath a bag of hot air, which brings us to our current and very cool president. You see, fairy tales are for big people too, because they have an allegorical way of teaching us life lessons without all the drama. To be clear, America needs a lot of things in a president, but “cool” is not necessarily one of them.
Authenticity would be a refreshing start. Cool is better left to cucumbers and drinks, not politics and presidents.
To be frank, something is not ... quite right ... that the leader of the free world feels the need to puff himself up. That he uses media gossip outlets like People magazine and Entertainment Tonight to beef up his own “star wattage” as it is called, probably tells us more than we really want to know about the president’s psyche. Really.
While at an “NBA Heroes” fundraiser in New York City on Aug. 22, Obama seemed, shall we say, visibly troubled that he was not the center of attention. “It is very rare,” Obama jokingly poked, “I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person. Usually the folks want to take a picture with me, sit next to me ... talk to me.”
Soldiers are being killed in Afghanistan, unemployment is historically high, the national debt swells, gas and food prices are on the rise, yet our president ponders puerile questions like “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the coolest guy of all.” You are Mr. President. Now step aside to make way for some dull grown-ups to come in and clean up your mess.
Susan Stamper Brown writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Email her at @susanstamperbrown.com.