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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Hail to the (Cool) Chief

As I continue to mull over my feelings about the assassination of Osama bin Laden, I keep returning to the President's Speech at the White House Correspondent's Dinner just the night before the attack.

You can watch the video here or at the end of this post.

Obama makes some pretty amazing zings, most of which are aimed directly at Donald Trump. This one is a case in point:
“Donald Trump is here tonight,” the comedian in chief said, grinning. “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
'The Donald 'sat forward in his chair, rocking back and forth like a caged lion, looking mostly serious and uncomfortable, and ready to pounce, but if you look closely, every once in a while even he couldn't suppress an occasional nod and a schmirk.  It clearly conveyed that even The Donald thought The President had delivered a brilliant volley.

It was this one, though, that, looking back on it, is a bit unnerving.
“All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience,” Mr. Obama said, as people in the room either chortled or grimaced nervously, all depending on their proximity to Mr. Trump.

In “Celebrity Apprentice,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Trump, teeth flashing, “the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks, but you recognized that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey.”

“These,” Mr. Obama said, “are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.”
It's funny, right?

It becomes a bit unnerving when you consider that the President had just ordered the execution of the most wanted man in the world, sending Navy Seals into Pakistan in a most delicate operation to accomplish what many thought no one could ever accomplish.

One only wonders how many sleepless nights Mr. Obama has had in coming to make that decision.

His staff calls him "Cool Hand Luke". His detractors say he is "too professorial". Too "aloof" and "out of touch" with the general public.

I'll tell you what - at the end of the day, I don't have to like the person who makes decisions like the execution of a terrorist in a politically fragile environment.

I'm sure glad someone with a clear head and steady hand is leading this nation.

Seth Meyers followed The President's remarks and joked that everyone was looking for Osama bin Laden, but the rumor was that he had his own show on C-span from 4-5.

Mr. Obama just grinned and laughed.  One can only imagine the very private joke he was enjoying in the moment. Who knew?

Meyers also commented on Mr. Obama's appearance.
"What happened, to you?" he asked, "When you were sworn in, you looked like the guy on the Old Spice commercial. Now you look like Louis Gossett, Sr.," adding, "I've never said this before to anyone, but maybe you should start smoking again. Is this the change you were talking about? ... Mr. President, look at your hair. If your hair gets any whiter, the Tea Party is going to endorse it."
He may be 'Joe Cool', but occupying the Office of the President does not come without substantial, personal cost. Underneath that calm exterior beats the heart of a human being. A man who is someone's son. Someone's brother. Someone's husband. Someone's father.

Obama Action figure from
I think I was in 8th Grade Civics Class when I had to write an essay on whether leaders are born or made - whether the leader creates the time or time calls forth a leader.

I remember getting an A minus on the paper with the comment, "You demonstrated a serious engagement with the question but your answer fell short of expectations."

I was an Anglican, even then.

I still don't have an adequate answer to that question. I only know a leader when I see one.

Say whatever else you want about the man, but Barak Obama is a leader.

He's also got a very cool deadpan delivery. Not exactly 'professorial' but very dry and stirred, but never shaken - like a good James Bond martini.

Well-handled, sir. Well-handled, indeed.


Lerewayah said...

Couldn't have said better myself. So, it's good you wrote it, and not I. Well handled, Mother Eliz., well handled.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Lerewayah.

susan s. said...

Thanks for this. I love Obama, his coolness, and the fact that he can speak in sentences(off the cuff)that actually make sense. I enjoyed watching him skewer Trump, a man who sets himself up to be skewered, imho.

The Bond reference was spot on. :-)

Bex said...

I've heard it said that President Obama plays 11-dimensional chess. The thought occurred to me that the announcement of General Petraeus's new job happened just before the OBL killing. The general isn't going to be sharing in the political benefits of this now, is he?

Bill said...

Nobody serves in that office and leaves unchanged. I haven't seen even one ex-president that hasn't looked like he'd aged 20 years.

kenju said...

You are so right!! I love this - and him. He is cool in the highest sense of the word! lol

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susan S. - I still can't believe that he was so cool while all of "that" was going on. That is the definition of "cool" - and, professional.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bex - 11 dimensional chess? Now, THAT's cool. Very, very cool.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Bill - 20 years at a minimum.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kenju - no argument from me.

MarkBrunson said...

Bit of ambivalence, here.

It was the correspondents' dinner, so good-natured ribbing is expected, but, at the same time, being a fierce opponent of teasing and good-natured ribbing as concealed aggression, it seemed a bit like bullying Trump.

I dislike Trump, I think he's an idiot, but, still. On the other hand, it might have been crueler simply to ignore the man's very evident presence.

It does encourage me, though, that Obama is firmly in control now, as he is smart enough to know not to make public zingers like that unless you know they won't backfire.

MadPriest said...

Priests have to do this all the time. In the space of 24 hours we find ourselves working in various contexts all demanding our full attention and for us to present ourselves in a manner appropriate to each situation regardless of what we did before and what we will do after.

My guess is that Barack, like a good priest, is a professional who will hide his own emotions so that he can deal with each situation in context. I would love to know if he blubs like a girlie when he reads a story about an abused dog being rescued by a kind family. But, for reasons of national security, we will never be given such information - well, not until his autobiography is published well after his time in office is over.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mark - he's firmly in control now, but that control could easily slip away. The Right is relentless.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jonathan - I see your point, but I sure am glad I'm a priest and not the President of the United States of America.