If Obama is still searching for a way to take the national temperature, to figure out “whose ass to kick,” as he famously said last week of his response to the BP oil spill and ensuing environmental crisis, he just needs to follow the biceps. Whenever trouble lurks, wherever humanity has taken a heartbreaking tumble, the “Silver Fox” and his field uniform of form fitting designer jeans and pec-stretched t-shirt will be. Apparently windblown hair and a serious face are the weapons of mass destruction needed to “keep them honest.”
President Obama is not a bad looking guy himself, and we know he keeps in shape – all that “Buff Bam” vacationing in Hawaii coverage. So it’s a wonder that in the midst of the PR mess his administration finds themselves in, accusations of being slow to respond to the Gulf catastrophe, not showing enough empathy and acting as the handmaiden to big business, Obama’s people have never thought to rip a page out of AC’s playbook.
As Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning author and presidential historian stated as part of a panel discussion on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” “President Reagan knew the value of photos.” She alluded to the idea that if the BP catastrophe had happened on his watch, the Gipper would have made sure he was documented in his work shirt, talking to the Gulf’s “real people” on a daily basis.
But Obama is a curious case. For a man who harnessed the viral powers of the Internet throughout his campaign in ways that other candidates could only envy, a man who seems to understand intuitively that listening to the people who put him office is vital to his success, he has a curiously arrogant and disdainful attitude toward the media. This is not serving him well. Reagan, who I revile personally, was however, inarguably cuddly with the press and the American people. Though his policies may have stuck a knife in the back of our nation’s future, he had this way of making you believe in a kindly, disinterested love of the regular guy.
America needs a little cuddling right about now. Unemployment rates are stuck, with no immediate hope of falling. People are worried and scared. The middle class American dream is in danger of slipping through the fingers of so many, and on top of that, our geographic treasures, such as the Gulf and the beaches of Pensacola are imperiled. Is anything sacred anymore? But instead of connecting with us, President Obama comes off as curiously truculent and annoyed. That may be reflective of the national mood but it is not what we need at this moment in history. Where is that decided, active hope?
I began this post by taking a good natured poke at Anderson Cooper, or “Old Smoldering Blue Eyes (OSBE),” as my good friend Diane calls him. But there is a reason I invoked his studly example. AC gets it. He understands that in the midst of a local or international crisis (Katrina, the Earthquake in Haiti, trouble in the Gulf), America wants to see a virile, somber visage, on the ground talking to people, raising awareness, and providing the televised appearance of making things happen. Sitting in the Oval Office on a Tuesday night asking the nation to pray just doesn’t fill that need. God doesn’t know how to fix this mess either. When did “Yes, We Can” become an inert heavenly plea?
Get thee to an Abercrombie & Fitch, Barack!