Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Is Barack Obama too cool to be president?

By Dean Obeidallah
May 4, 2012 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
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
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1900 GMT (0300 HKT)
John Sutter says the right is often stereotyped on climate change. But with 97% of climate scientists say humans are causing global warming, we all have to get together on this.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
Andrew Liepman and Philip Mudd: When we declare that we will defeat ISIS, what do we exactly mean?
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
Thailand sex trafficking
Human trafficking is a multibillion dollar global industry. To beat it, we need to change mindsets, Cindy McCain says.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
The leaders of the GOP conferences say a Republican-led Senate could help solve America's problems.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
Nicholas Syrett says Wesleyan University's decision to make fraternities admit women will help curb rape culture.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Mike Downey says New Yorkers may be overdoing it, but baseball will really miss Derek Jeter
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1232 GMT (2032 HKT)
Quick: Which U.S. president has authorized wars of various kinds in seven Muslim countries?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Women's issues should be considered front and center when assessing a society's path, says Zainab Salbi
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1805 GMT (0205 HKT)
A catastrophe not making headlines like Ebola and ISIS: the astounding rate of child poverty in the world's richest country.
ADVERTISEMENT