Presidential Rock Star? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 26, 2009
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On Monday we celebrated the birthday of a man who gave his life for civil rights, and on Tuesday we inaugurated our first black ­president.

It was fitting. A little PR-happy, perhaps, a little campy, but if one could overlook the fact that Obama has already been compared to every half-decent leader from Lincoln to JFK, it was fitting.

It was certainly more fitting than a comparison I saw last week on “Showbiz Tonight”: Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) versus the Obamas (Barack and Michelle) – which couple is more famous? It’s one thing for Al Gore to win an Oscar; it’s quite another when Sasha Obama needs a press release to explain why she was fiddling around with a digital camera. Chelsea Clinton didn’t start trends. Malia is not Miley. Michelle is not Oprah (and no, Oprah does not deserve a cabinet position).

We all know that Obama is young, vibrant, ­someone new and different. But if there’s anything we have learned from the last eight years – from Bush getting a shoe chucked at him in Baghdad, from the romantic life of Nicolas Sarkozy, from the heroic efforts of Captain “Sully,” who landed his plane in the Hudson River – it is the value of competence, dignity, gravitas.

Having Jennifer Lopez call the most powerful man in the world a “rock star” and “the biggest A-lister in a room full of A-listers” in no way confers gravitas upon him. That just sets him up for caricature.

We need to realize that he is our president. He’s facing two wars, the worst economy since the Great Depression, China and Russia resurgent, a budget ­crisis, healthcare crisis, energy crisis, Gaza crisis, plus a finicky Congress. He doesn’t need to deal with his face on sneakers, skateboards, or toilet paper. And since when do presidents have their own line of cologne?

The only other political figure I can think of who has inspired such a cult of idolization and commercialization is Che Guevara. Ironically, the very success of Guevara’s iconography has subverted his true ideological legacy. Few of those who sport his swarthy, spirited face on their T-shirts or notebooks today know what he did, or even what he believed in.

That’s my greatest fear for Obama. I’m afraid that we’ll go through two terms with this eloquent, ambiguous man, and we’ll never move past the adoration phase. We’ll never really know which promises he kept, which advisors he fired, which bills he vetoed, because we’ll be too enamored with his dog, his daughters, and his wife’s Oscar de la Renta. We’ll hold him back from being presidential, doing his job, while at the same time, we won’t hold him accountable.

During the first year or so of the campaign, the ­excitement was understandable. But by now even Sarah Palin has gone back to quietly running her state (okay, maybe not so quietly), and it’s time for a change in attitude. We must respect the privacy of the Obama children, regardless of the historical nature of a black family in the White House. Meanwhile, the media should spend its precious sound bites on more worthwhile, underserved topics, like conjoined twins or homicides.

As for Barack Obama, it’s time to ditch the red ­carpet, get down here with the rest of us, and save America from the supposed impending doom. That’s what we’re paying him for, right?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 23 comments. Post your own now!

Aspiringauhor said...
Feb. 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm
I agree with you on everything but your closing statement. Although the USA president is internationally famous, he or she does not actually make that much money. Not a lot of our money goes towards paying him or her. But, yes, I get your point. We elected him to do that job, and he isn't really. But don't take that the wrong way! I am a definite Obama lover. I just think he isn't doing as much as he could be doing. :)
GiselleD. said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 11:53 pm
This is excellent and I totally agree with what you're saying. I believe, also, that if Obama really means what he sayid he was going to do, then he needs to get a move on, being halfway through his term and having done, essentially, nothing.
Eman_Neercs This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm
That red fist...isn't that a symbol for socialism?
K.a.t.h.l.e.e.n. replied...
Mar. 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm
hmmmm, that's ironic...
i<3steven! said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm
definitely tru, and i also think that we should give him a chance cuz lotsa people h* him and that's wrong!!
emajin96! said...
Jan. 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm
Awesome piece!!!! Loved your insight; totally true.
CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm
This piece is absolutely true. I love it.
PurpleMidnight said...
Oct. 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm
Yes, I totally agree. I really dislike Obama and I didn't want him to win. BUT I didn't want McCain to win either. California is broke, and setting a deadline for Guantanimo Bay? Okay, so then where are we going to put the terroists, who hate America with every fiber of their being and there followers? Over here, closer to all our loved ones? I understand the country was already on a downhill slide, but the way the media AND OBAMA set himself up, it was like, In one year I will fix eve... (more »)
oppenheimlily said...
Aug. 6, 2009 at 4:24 pm
first i want to say great job! This had great structure, and fantastic backing! However, I do not agree that people shouldn't be idolizing him. Though he isn't a "rock star" Barack Obama is the type of person teens should be idolizing. He does things to make the world a better place, how good could you get? What does Vanessa Hudgens or Robert Pattinson do, kids idolize them? What I am trying to point out is that Barack Obama is the person we SHOULD be idolizing, over the stars who just do ... (more »)
swimmergirl said...
Aug. 5, 2009 at 6:56 pm
Agreed and for the record has anyone ever noticed that he never actually states how he is going to fix our country's problems he only says that he will. To me this means either he has no idea how he is going to fix the problems or he knows the people won't like it. I personally think that he should be impeached and; how is that hope and change working out for ya!!!
kiwi12 said...
Aug. 3, 2009 at 7:41 pm
Agreed. But Sarah Palin backed down from her office of running Alaska, FYI.
He could do a really good job, or a really bad one like he is promising..
musicgirl757 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 24, 2009 at 7:26 pm
This is true. I am very happy Obama won, and I support him 100%, but I think the media should let him do his JOB not follow him trying to get a story. Obama is president, not a rockstar.
rubiesrrare said...
May 29, 2009 at 9:04 pm
i think that this piece was well written and well to those of you that are using this to voice your opinions on the man in charge of the country, think about this: obama is making history- and not just because he is the first African American president either! if we have a president that is doing something so that we (as teens) are still paying off this debt when we are of retirement age and so that most of my friends that are in the army aren't going to die in some god-forsake... (more »)
oodles12 said...
May 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm
Actually Obama has done alot. He's really buckling down on the situation in Iran and the Palestinian/Israel issue.
He Set a deadline for the closing of Guantanimo Bay.
He set up a meeting in Cairo with Arab officials
Fast-tracked the process to apply new fuel standards to 2011 car models AND initiated steps to allow California to set its own standards for auto emissions that are stricter than that of the Federal government.
Signed a detailed executive order to ban tor... (more »)
Wally said...
May 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm
I feel exactly the same way, it is geting ridiculous. Just the other day i saw his wife on some "hottest woman of 2009" thing. I fiercly waved my arms in a "What the hell" position and wondered if i become famous and make wishfull promises and have a hot wife, would I become president? oh nuts, I don't have a dog.
i believe in dreams' said...
May 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm
I'm not really into Obama but I wasn't much of a McCain fan either. I do think Obama needs to buckle down and make the major changes first, then go for the smaller. Everything about our economy is falling apart, and I think he needs to prove he can help us, like he promised. I haven't seen much proof yet. But I do believe that he'll catch up. I think soon he will do good on his word. But until then, I am really anxious.
elfman said...
Apr. 29, 2009 at 3:05 pm
i agree with this peace as obama is just a stare right now and not even doing much of his job.... he needs to buckle down and get to work.
HOPEMVP said...
Apr. 27, 2009 at 4:42 pm
Thers is too much merchendise on Obama as a president as whole. I mean books, posters, t-shirts, even puzzles! Where does the REAL OPINION start. I really think that "Obama just thinks he's a Rockstar".
racheel said...
Apr. 13, 2009 at 2:59 am
This is so true. Obama is not a celebrity. He is the president, and should be spending more time focused on the problems in America, not the upcoming cocktail party. He's a politician, not a socialite.
DinosoarJen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 8, 2009 at 7:33 pm
If you hadn't noticed, he's letting it happen. He isn't protesting it. He's going on those shows and publicizing himself. No one is forcing to step into the lime light, he's taking conscious steps. Tell HIM to ditch the red carpet, not us.
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