Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Is Barack Obama too cool to be president?

By Dean Obeidallah
updated 12:24 PM EDT, Fri May 4, 2012
President Barack Obama joins "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon and The Roots to "slow jam" the news on April 24 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. President Barack Obama joins "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon and The Roots to "slow jam" the news on April 24 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
HIDE CAPTION
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
Is Obama the hip president?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Karl Rove-led super PAC ran ad saying Obama is "cool" but ineffective
  • Dean Obeidallah says he thought being cool was a good thing
  • He says Rove's group realizes Mitt Romney is "cool-challenged"
  • Obeidallah: The ad seeks to convert an Obama positive into a negative

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks, including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog The Dean's Report and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter.

New York (CNN) -- When I was growing up, my friends and I all wanted to be cool -- like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro or, of course, the king of cool at the time: Fonzie. (I should note that I grew up in an Italian neighborhood.)

Being "cool" was a good thing.

Today it appears that being "cool" could be a bad thing, at least if you are running for president of the United States.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

That theory surfaced in an ad from a Republican super PAC headed by Karl Rove.

The super PAC American Crossroads argues in its campaign ad that Barack Obama is "too cool" to be president. The attack ad shows President Obama "slow jamming" the news on Jimmy Fallon's NBC late-night talk show, singing an Al Green song and chugging a beer. (Obama drinking a beer must confuse those Republicans who still think he is a Muslim.)

Sure, Obama can sing, spar with late-night comedians and charm talk-show hosts. Still I am not so sure I would classify him as being "too cool." To me, Obama is more of a mix of cool and nerdy -- sort of a cross between Denzel Washington and Harry Potter. Obama may have soul, but he likely also has "Star Wars" toys.

You could even say he may be more geeky than cool. Obama has long collected comic books and when he recently posed for a picture with the actress who played Lt. Uhura on "Star Trek," Obama admitted he was a Trekkie -- he even flashed the Vulcan salute which means "live long and prosper. On the geek to cool meter, that definitely tips towards geekdom.

Herman Cain: Obama's singing 'OK'
Exes share glimpse of young Obama

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook/CNNOpinion.

And yet in today's world, geeks can actually be cool. They're no longer depicted the way they were in the "Revenge of the Nerds" movies with pocket protectors, calculator watches and Coke-bottle lens glasses. Geeky people are the model of success, the ultimate expression of cool -- think the late Steve Jobs.

At the risk of agreeing with Rove, I think he's correct that Obama would be considered cool. But is that bad?

Rove thinks so. Indeed, Rove's ad claims that "America got one cool president" but then cites statistics showing job losses for young people. The ad concludes by posing the question: "After four years of a celebrity president, is your life any better?" Taking Rove's argument to its logical "Spock"-type conclusion -- if Obama was not cool, he would be a great president and America would be better off.

Let's see if that theory is accurate. No one would argue that George W. Bush was cool. Yet if Rove's proposition is correct, Bush should have been one of the greatest presidents ever.

While some may miss Bush -- and those people would be mostly comedians such as myself -- by the time he left office, he had a 22% approval rating, one of the lowest ever for an outgoing president.

So it appears that lack of cool does not equal fantastic president.

What is Rove's real point? Is it personal? Was Rove picked on as a child by the cool kids in his school? Did they give him wedgies or not let him sit with them at the lunch table in the cafeteria? Is this ad simply Rove's "Revenge of the Nerds" moment to lash out at Obama for being the cool guy?

Maybe but more likely it's political. Rove knows that the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is at best "cool-challenged." Rove is simply trying to turn one of Obama's assets into a liability.

Will it work? Do we want a less than cool president? And if this ad gets traction, will Rove release other ads attacking Obama's strengths? Will we soon see ads claiming Obama is "too articulate" or in too good a shape to be president?

Only time will tell, but if this is the type of ridiculous argument we are hearing six months from Election Day, I can't even imagine the insanity we will see as we get closer to November 6.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT