Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm Too Sexy for my Shirt...

...Too Sexy fer Constitution's Dirt

Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president.

Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip.

“Obama has this awareness that other presidents haven’t had. He’s white, and he’s black. He’s an elitist, and he’s regular folk. He’s not pinned down to a perspective.”

And his hip image certainly isn’t hurt by his wife, who is so obviously cool — setting trends (Sleeveless! Tending her own garden!), confidently mingling with superstars, gracing magazine covers coast to coast.

And speaking of basketball, who missed the sight of POTUS dressed in all black, sitting courtside at a Bulls-Wizards game with a cup of beer and high-fiving a trash-talking fan? How hip was that?!

It’s so hip that school kids in Albany, N.Y., coined a term for it: “Baracking.” And it doesn’t stop there. Those in the know at Albany High greet each other by saying: “What’s up, my Obama?” and they respond to a sneeze with “Barack you.” Misbehavior is peer-corrected with the admonition, “Barack’s in the White House,” which translates, “Show some respect.”

Obama’s hipness reinforces that he’s different, yet he’s comfortingly familiar to Americans who want to revere their presidents as pedestal material while demanding that they be approachable as the guy next door.

So what’s hipness got to do with public policy? For Obama, everything.

His personal charisma is a nonverbal form of communication, sending seemingly conflicting messages: the need for radical and sacrificial change, yet the reassurance to Americans that he’s as sane and stable as the guy in the next barber’s chair, said Roger Wilkins, who recently retired as a history professor at George Mason University.

“Hipness is a way of presenting to the world that you know what’s going on and that you’ve got things under control,”

“For Obama, his hipness exudes power.

True, Obama uses his hipster personality as a weapon. His enormous popularity is a bludgeon that demands political respect, if not support.
Being hip has shown the ability to keep 60% approval rating over his first 100 days, but it may have a downside as well.
To be sure, the track record for hip politicians isn’t promising. History suggests that the power of personality has limitations in politics. It sours under public scrutiny.

So can it last? Can Obama’s hipness survive the weight and responsibility of the office? Maybe there’s a reason presidents aren’t hip. War-making, secrecy, aging, unpopularity, sternness and sobriety — these are decidedly unhip. And all that could come in the next 100 days, because hipness is a trendy thing, subject to popular whim.
Hip folks are a dime a dozen, but finding a real Hep Cat is much more rare. For example, my extreme coolness has endured since the late '50s and I know of no other survivors.

(H.T. Sean M. in Doubleplusundead.)

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