(Updated) Cool Article on a Cool President

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Update:

During a recent interview with comedian Steve Harvey, Harvey suggested that the two should surprise some visitors on a tour through the White House.

President Obama immediately said, “Let’s go spread some Christmas cheer” and the two walked up to the tour group and…

Well, see for yourself — talk about cool!

The special Steve Harvey Show, with the interview and the entire President- meets-visitors episode airs today, Dec. 20

==

Original Post:

Rightly or wrongly — methinks “wrongly” — Barack Obama has been recently placed in the category of the “inept” and has been accused of joining a “pitiful pantheon.” His presidency has been prognosticated as being “doomed” and his signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has been said to have “done more damage to the USA then (sic) the swords of the Nazis, Soviets & terrorists combined.”

Of course, there have been dozens of other much, much worse condemnations of the president and of his presidency — many too vicious and repugnant to even begin to quote here.

Fortunately, there are still one or two people left — yours truly among them — who see some good in Barack Obama.

I don’t know if “being cool” is one of those attributes that can save a presidency, but, hey, when the chips are down you take what you can and make the most of it.

In a column in the New York Times, Ishmael Reed looks at some past “cool presidents,” cool times, cool jazz, cool musicians and at “the president of the Cool” — Barack Obama.

It is a cool article.

Please read it here and don’t forget to read the comments, too.

I particularly like this one:

Anyone who ever watched the Modern Jazz Quartet walk onto a stage, perform a great concert, take their bows, and walk off knows where President Obama’s cool comes from. It’s all there: the presence, the threads, the detachment, the top-of-the-form performance, the dignity.

Cool!

Our President still has plenty of time to do many (more) cool things.

Image: www.shutterstock.com

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • dduck

    He’s cool all right.

  • Bob Munck

    Anyone who ever watched the Modern Jazz Quartet walk onto a stage, perform a great concert, take their bows, and walk off knows where President Obama’s cool comes from.

    Reading that gave me a real start of recognition. Perfect.

    I last saw the MJQ at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach when I was living in a grungy motel across the parking lot. I’d just gotten back after their last set when Milt Jackson himself knocked on my door and asked if I’d mind if they made noise for an hour or so (their rooms and mine were in a somewhat isolated wing of the hotel). I ended up sitting in his room listening to them jam until daybreak.

    The word “cool” may itself no longer be cool, but these guys were, and Barack and Michelle Obama are cool in exactly the same way.

  • dduck

    Sorry, comparing the MJQ with Obama in coolness is like comparing Bush 2 to John Wayne; both are a stretch.
    BTW: I love the MJQ.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    That’s a pretty cool comment, Bob. Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.

  • sheknows

    I would definitely call Barack and Michelle Obama cool. For a family that is constantly under attack on just about every front, they have a grace and composure that transcends the chaos and vitriolic cacophony around them. I would call them regal….and that’s pretty cool.

  • Bob Munck

    @Dorian de Wind: (You might appreciate this.) What I was doing in LA was working on Xerox’s attempt to make a commercial product out of the wonderful things developed by PARC — Ethernet, the Alto personal computer, the laser printer, etc. They failed, for a variety of reasons, but a very minor one might have been the parade of West Coast jazz musicians playing across the parking lot and staying at my hotel: Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, George Shearing (with Mel Tormé!), the MJQ, Gerry Mulligan, … I got very little sleep and tended to be grumpy when I arrived in El Segundo.

    Happy Christmas to you, and to us all.

  • dduck

    No problem, just don’t mess with the MJQ.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Sheknows says: “I would call [Barack and Michelle Obama] regal…and that’s pretty cool.”

    Agreed, but just waiting for the reaction from some on the “regal” part.

    @Bob

    Wow! At least you had some pretty ‘regal’ company while the project went down. :)

    Merry/Happy Christmas

  • petew

    An article in TIME magazine shortly after the 2008 elections included an interview that a journalist had with President Obama. One of the things the journalist noted was that Obama seemed to act well under pressure—sometimes even better when things got rough. He noted how the President was able to stand up to the Generals who ran the mid-eastern war effort–like Petraeus, and could disagree in a way that elicited respect from them, even though the President has no personal military history. There is no doubt that, when he has a press conference, he carries himself with an air of confidence and poise, even when his approval ratings are very low. Yes, he’s very cool!

    But what I have observed—particularly in this time of Citizen’s United, Super packs and social “welfare, non-profit” groups, when billionaires like the Koch brothers can make multi-million dollar donations at one time, and other entities (which conveniently hide behind a cloak of non-disclosure) can even donate more—is that Obama’s “incompetence,” is mostly manufactured by those who oppose him. It seems to me, that, what poll numbers really reflect, is not how well or how badly a President is performing his job, but rather, how well or badly the public is TOLD he is doing his job.

    What historians will probably give him credit for, is taking the right actions to bring us out of a catastrophic Recession rivaling the great Depression, taking actual steps to draw down and eventually end our engagement in middle eastern wars, making a risky judgment call that brought down Bin Laden, making every effort to use a wise dose of stimulus to help the economy recover, And passing a health care bill which (although experiencing a rocky start, and probably in need of many tweaks) is the most comprehensive effort to provide affordable insurance to up to 30 million more Americans. And then there is the fact that although sometimes failing, he has earnestly tried to do just about everything he promised in the 2008 campaign. In my book, even his avoidance of, and aversion to, the press, makes sense in light of the dozens of lies told about him that circulate in each 24 hour news cycle, and the many “scandals” he has been accused of, which are almost always not really as drastic as GOP strategists would have us believe.

    I think once the daily character attacks, trumped up charges, and viral spirals that are hurled at this president so consistently, are over—future historians will then be free to give some credit where credit is due. But, like Lincoln, Roosevelt, Reagan and Bush, the polls reflect more what the public has been TOLD about its controversial leaders—not how well they are REALLY doing their jobs.

    Most of us feel that the President is cool and has a likable personality, but I think many of us currently fail to appreciate the moderation and diplomacy he has tried so hard to use, in order to unblock the log jam, that is now the typical way he and members of Congress are perceived. Even if the ACA fails, I think the President should, and will, be given credit for making a sincere effort to provide “for “the common welfare” of all Americans—and no, that’s not a reference to food stamps, unemployment benefits and/or social security checks—it refers to his attempt to bring good health, happiness, dignity, and security to the millions of Americans who just don’t have sufficient income to provide health insurance for themselves, and for their loved ones.

    Cool is not nearly an adequate word, to describe his performance! Once the angry and wild eyed rants about Obama being a socialist, a Communist, a Fascist, and an anti-colonial Kenyan, president, have subsided, those of use with any sanity left will be able to clearly see the incredible odds against this man which he has fought during every single day of his Presidency. Yet if he disappoints any of us, and his critics spin every act of his, with negativity and lies—it’s just become the “IN” things to diss him according to what those lies and negative spins convey! Mostly, much ado about nothing!

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    As usual, well said, Pete.

    Thank you

  • http://www.coachkp.com Kevin Purcell

    I take it the President got elected by the same people who were convinced how smart and how cool he was … that now think his performance is not up to snuff (the young, the uninformed, the independents or in-betweeners). So who fooled who. Chicken or egg.

  • SteveK

    … that now think his performance is not up to snuff (the young, the uninformed, the independents or in-betweeners)

    I think you got two out of four there Kevin… But I don’t put much credence in what the uninformed think.

    Polls seem to indicate that the young and the independents have caught on to the fact that the country being held back by the obstruction of congressional republicans and the 24/7 intentional misinformation from the right leaning media organizations and PAC’s.

    - * – * -

    For those unable (unwilling?) to see even a scosche of ‘cool’ in our (your / my) President… I think a few examples of what ‘non-cool’ looks like might help:

  • petew

    SteveK,

    I just loved Bush’s statement that went something like—”soon we’ll be able to re-establish chaos.”

    It seems that for the past few years, Republicans have been trying to do just that. Too bad most voters don’t realize that many Republicans have managed to finagle their support, simply by succeeding in making them fear any changes that might actually make things better.

  • dduck

    Hmm, when I hear chaos in the present time frame, I think of another president.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Cool video, Steve. Thanks

    Except that the coolest of all things was left out: “Mission accomplished.”

  • petew

    dduck,

    I think most of the chaos in the Obama Presidency was handed to him by previous events and presidents. It then continued as a result of the massive obstructionist efforts made by Republicans.

    The President did not want to shut down the government, but Republicans did anyway! The President wanted to pay off the debt and keep a long standing procedural measure, that exists primarily to pay off the debt already incurred. And though the debt is still very high, total yearly debt is beginning to fall, and the budget has finally take a step forward after Republicans have agreed to at least a modest temporary compromise.

    If chaos is merely the result of disagreeing with one’s political opponents, then every President is guilty of perpetuating it. But when one applies any objectivity at all to our present situation, one can’t help but see that the GOP is the primary culprit that has sabotaged the way our government is intended to work—completely refusing to compromise! But this is something very few Congressmen have allowed,as they have sabotaged almost everything the President has proposed.

    Romper room may still be full of mayhem and mischief, but that’s really caused by the brats launching spit balls—not the kindergarten teacher who tries to calm them down and restore some order.

  • sheknows

    I think since we are all discussing ” coolness” it has less to do with politics and more to do with humanness in general.

    The things which make Barack and family what we view as cool are personality attributes and they have an abundance of positive ones.

  • dduck

    petew, the ACA is ALL Obama’s chaos. Can’t lay that one on previous presidents. Mission accomplished meets “if you like your plan/doctor”. No 1 at politifact lie:
    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/dec/02/2013-lie-year-finalists-vote-readers-poll/

  • petew

    dduck,

    True, the ACA has encountered a lot of snags and rough spots, and much of that may have to do with poor planning by Democrats. But one can’t discount the fact that Republican controlled states,(most with rubber stamp legislatures)have rejected increases in Medicaid funding and have resisted the ACA at every turn as soon as it was passed. One must also consider that the ACA was a compromise between a single payer government system, which would have caused many legislators and voters to run about screaming about socialism and communism—they are doing so now, but not with any real definitions to prove it under their belts—but, it was either that or the continuance of a completely flawed and about to self-destruct privately run insurance industry.

    I could also point out that the ACA is the first comprehensive attempt to insure the millions of lower income families and people who have been completely lost under the privately run insurance industry.

    Judging how well the previous system might have been run, as compared to the ACA, may have to do with which side of the fence you are looking from. But, remember social security didn’t really come into its own for several years and critics were just as fanatically against it as today’s Republicans are against the ACA. On the other hand Bush’s Medicare Part D program met with fierce resistance from Democrats but still managed to become part of our (albeit insufficient) health care safety net. As I said, I think a large part of how you judge chaos depends on what your political preferences are, but I cannot believe that the ACA would have had nearly as much difficulty without the public’s brainwashing attempted by Republicans—led by an insane Tea party fringe. I also think that if there were uniform mathematically solid ways to evaluate the causes of chaos, Obama’s programs would be far outweighed by the many fanatical anti-obama campaigns so eagerly sought by Republicans.

    Be what this may, I suppose Obama’s persona exudes a kind of cool that most politician lack. But at the end of the day coolness, is only a passing ship in the night. I think you’ll agree that what a President tries to accomplish is the real litmus test of his worth—just my opinion.

  • SteveK

    petew,
    I do agree with all you’ve said but I have to wonder why you’re spending so much time trying to show, using actual facts, what is and has had to happen to create the ACA.

    [I almost added more but realized it won't help... Those who've bought into the "ACA BAD" lie are 'Duck Dynasty' in their convictions and not worth my time... 'Sherlock' season 2 starts right now.]

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    @ Steve K

    I agree with you on agreeing with the facts Petew so eloquently and convincingly states time and time again on ACA, but I also admire Petew’s persistence and dedication to the truth.

    Merry Christmas/Happy holidays to you.

  • dduck

    Pray tell, what is the truth? What the NYT reports or wishful thinking:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/your-money/health-insurance/comparing-health-plans-oh-those-details.html?_r=0

    Have out of network charges? “Those charges are not capped by the new law’s out-of-pocket maximum, which says expenses provided by in-network providers cannot exceed $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for a family of two or more in 2014.”

  • petew

    SteveK, Dorian and dduck,

    I guess the article is concerned with Obama’s cool persona rather than his political record, but I just think he is also cool in the way he has dealt with his political foes, and Congress.

    dduck, I also consult sites like PolitiFAct and FactCheck.org. so I have know for years that he could not have delivered on that unrealistic comment–but I still don’t see him as more dishonest or unethical than any other Presidents. And, although it does not often help to defend one politician by pointing at the faults of another, when it comes to the anarchists actions of Tea Partiers and the rest of the Republican lunacy in resent years, one should have some perspective on the importance of Obama’s lie.

    I always expected that he would disappoint me in some ways, and I cannot fathom why that bit of obvious misinformation, kept being handed out to the public for so long. But as you know, I am an Obama fan, and find him much better than other POTUS’s on many different fronts. So other than repeating the observations of many others, that he is indeed “cool.” Let me add that all of you guys should have a happy Christmas, or any other holiday at this time of year. Sometimes it feels like a privilege to exchange ideas on line with such a group of intelligent and non-aggressive commenters like those on TMV. Talk to you soon in 2014!

  • dduck

    Stay cool, but not too cool during this holiday blessed time of year.