One of the many reasons that I admire Obama — and there are of course countless reasons to admire the man — is that he is cool. And I don’t mean “Dude, is Obama cool or what” although he is that kind of cool, most definitely. What I mean is more like, “Obama is one cool customer.” He’s collected and confident. He rolls easy with the punches, maintains his “cool’ and continues with the task at hand. I won’t try to argue that this is a uniquely GenX quality. I am evidence that it is not necessarily. I am so not cool, so not collecected, easily agitble and often fail to roll easy with the punches. I’m more mule-like, forging stubbornly straigh ahead. Not that anyone is really interested. Anyway, an article in the May 19, 2008 issue of Newsweek highlights this quality of Barack’s, along with other elements of this style and campaign and his staff. Check it. I suppose that to some extent I admire this quality because it is so not like myself, and I wished I could be more like that. Also, in comparison to Boomer 60’s idealism and passion which seems to have morphed into a kind of desperate hysteria these days, it just more reassuring, you know.
This outtake from the articles epitomizes the kind of cool I’m referring to:
On the night before Indiana and North Carolina, Axelrod appeared unusually grim and gloomy. The final night of internal polling showed Obama 12 points down in Indiana against Clinton—a disastrous collapse after two or three days of closing the gap. The campaign’s pollsters cautioned that the last night’s sample seemed weird and they should rely instead on the three-day rolling average of 2 points. But Axelrod feared the worst, that Wright had sunk the campaign in Indiana and possibly in North Carolina, too.
The next day, after visiting some polling stations, Obama arrived back at his hotel and stopped by the coffee shop, where he urged some curious bystanders to vote for him. When a NEWSWEEK reporter asked him about Axelrod’s gloomy prognosis, Obama shrugged and said: “It is what it is. We’ve had a month, two months of bad stuff. It’s been hard to change the storyline.” He smiled and walked out to get ready for his now traditional Election Day game of basketball. If he was at all worried, as his senior staff was, he hid his concerns successfully from the outside world.
Perhaps one could argue that the “cool” or at least the ability to not show the concern or worry here is Obama’s GenX ability to utilize a kind of apathy to positive affect (or is it effect?).