In the halcyon days of pre-election 2008, Barack Obama wasn’t just a presidential hopeful — he was a bona fide phenomenon. But Obama’s cultural caché came from an unlikely place, at least for a politician. From his exotic background to his youthful, energetic campaign to those shirtless bodysurfing pictures, the Democratic nominee just seemed, well, cool. He took Michelle to see Do the Right Thing on their very first date! He wouldn’t shut up about how much he loved The Wire! He even smoked — which, yes, is bad and gross, but nevertheless is something that a lot of cool people do. No wonder John McCain’s campaign once called Obama “the biggest celebrity in the world.” They meant it as a slight, but like any number of Hollywood hotshots, Obama seemed to simply ooze awesome.
Four years later, the bloom is off the rose. The American people are now better acquainted with the real Barack Obama — and it turns out that he’s not actually the political equivalent of Arthur Fonzarelli. (Or whoever the kids are into these days.) Instead, Obama is a textbook example of an archetype on the rise: the Cool Dad.