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 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
updated 8:25 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
updated 7:28 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 8:41 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
updated 6:18 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 6:31 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT