Why the GOP's Really Afraid of a "Cool" Obama
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Obama has dared to be a cool black man more often lately. First, in January, he sang, “I—I’m so in love with you” at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater, with Al Green in the audience, a totally engaging moment the Rove ad doesn’t fail to sneer at. (As Maureen Dowd wrote, “For eight seconds, we saw the president we had craved for three years: cool, joyous, funny, connected.”) Then, for a Black History Month celebration in the White House, Obama sang a few bars of “Sweet Home Chicago” with B.B. King, once again looking terrifically comfortable in his own (black) skin.
By March, the right was criticizing Obama for acknowledging, of Trayvon Martin, that “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Newt Gingrich called that comment “ disgraceful.”
At some level, much of the GOP base still believes that Obama’s race is somehow disqualifying for the Oval Office, and they can barely keep themselves from overtly attacking him for it. But the demographics are daunting, and their professionals know it. To see a white guy like Jimmy Fallon acting black—doing a silly Barry White impression with Obama and Roots vocalist Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter behind him—reinforces the fear among some on the right that the hip youth culture is increasingly a black culture and that it’s inexorably taking over. Obama, half-black/half-white himself, is at the center of this race jam, which is as “impure” as topical comedy itself--a mélange of news and clips of political speech marbled with rap, R&B, tech-talk and global kid culture. (Let’s hope we see more of that Saturday night when Jimmy Kimmel hosts the White House Correspondents Dinner.)
It's all that mixing that sparks miscegenation imaginations, creating GOP fears about cool whites leaving them behind in electoral limbo, forever.
Or, as Stephen Colbert called Obama’s slow jam of the news, a “pathetically successful ploy to be appealing.”