Is Obama too good to be true?
It can't be easy being perfect. But, as with everything else Barack Obama does, he makes it look effortless, says Katy Guest
Published 09/11/2008 | 21:05
He fought the most perfect election campaign in living memory. He gave the world's most perfect post-election address. He is tall, handsome, the leader of the free world and, days after his perfect victory, the transcript of his presidential election night speech is still making grown men weep.
There is no doubting that Barack Obama is the perfect man: perfectly kind, perfectly funny, perfectly in love with his perfect wife and his perfect, charming, beautiful children. Dammit, even his hair is perfect. And here are a few more things that he couldn't get wrong even if he tried:
An old joke goes: "What is it that no man wants, but no man wants to lose? Grey hair." But when you are the most brilliant man in the free world, even your hair behaves itself properly. According to his barber in Chicago, Obama's hair was almost entirely jet black until the presidential race began a year ago. But, when critics raised issues around the 47-year-old's relative youth and experience, along came the grey. "By the time I'm sworn in, I'll look the part," he told supporters in July. He added: "[Hillary Clinton] is the reason I have all this grey now."
How many US presidents can claim to have starred in a hip hop song? In a positive way? Not many. But Barack Obama exudes so much cool that even rappers want to be associated with him. One of them, Jadakiss, rapped: "Why is Bush acting like he is trying to get Osama? Why don't we impeach him and elect Obama?" Obama just can't help it. What did he do after casting his vote on Tuesday? Shot a few hoops. Which magazines have profiled him recently? 'Time', 'Newsweek', 'Men's Vogue', 'Harpers', 'New York Magazine'... 'Time' was typical in its calm appraisal of his utter wonderfulness. "Obama seemed the political equivalent of a rainbow – a sudden preternatural event inspiring awe and ecstasy."
It's official: being a good dad is cool. Obama proved it when, taking a little time out from campaigning, working out, visiting his sick granny and saving the free world, he took little Malia (10) and Sasha (seven) out trick-or-treating. And what did he do the morning after the most historic election victory of all time? Drove them to school. He also takes out the rubbish and reads them Harry Potter stories, it is faithfully reported. In return, his daughters (with Obama, right) think life in the White House will be "cool". But they also reckon, adorably, that their dad talks too much.
Legend has it that the taller and better-looking candidate always wins; but the 6ft 2in Obama left nothing to chance. While other candidates tend to gain weight during election campaigns, Obama gave up smoking and lost 5lbs, thanks to his personal trainer and adviser, the former basketball star Reggie Love. Obama and his "body man" spend an hour each morning running, swimming and lifting weights, which accounts for that world-leading physique. Still, not everybody is impressed. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican Governor of California, says: "We have to do something about his skinny legs. He has to do squats."
There is nothing surer to get female voters racing to the polling booths than a man who is smart, eloquent and angry about all the right things. No wonder Obama rallies came to look like Beatles concerts. With a firm moral grounding from his gran, Madelyn Dunham, the young Obama excelled at school. He went on to Columbia University, majoring in political science, and Harvard Law School, where he was the first black president of the prestigious 'Harvard Law Review'. Not only this, but the man can write. His books, 'Dreams From My Father' and 'The Audacity of Hope' have consistently topped 'The New York Times' best-seller list. Swoon.
When Hillary Clinton cried over her flagging election campaign, it gave her a temporary fillip but made her look a bit of a fool. When George W Bush cried, presenting a medal of honour, it was all slightly snotty. But Barack Obama even weeps impeccably. After the death of his beloved grandmother, the day before the election, a single perfect tear rolled down his manly cheek as he called her "one of those quiet heroes we have across America, who aren't famous – but each and every day they work hard". Meanwhile John McCain was thumping his lectern and yelling at Americans to "fight!"
Naturally, the new and fully reconstructed president-elect is a paid-up feminist. In 'Dreams From My Father' he wrote about his admiration for his grandmother, or "Toot", the first woman vice-president at her local bank, and his mother, Ann, who ran microfinance projects in Asia that enabled women to become self-sufficient. "She was very clear that the best indicator of how a country is going to develop is how it treats its women and whether it educates its girls," he recalled, proudly. Still, who wouldn't be a feminist when they have a beautiful wife who is willing to outearn him to support his fledgling writing career and his attempt to win the US presidency?
A perfect president needs a perfect puppy. And to allow himself the indulgence of a tear-jerking victory address that pulls every heartstring in his besotted audience. Thus, Obama addressed his children: "Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House." Bookies are already taking bets on the First Dog's name, with Madelyn or Maddie, after Obama's late grandmother, in the lead at 6/1. But there is still a chance of a Palin in the White House in 2009: the name is 66/1, with McCain trailing at 200/1.
Michelle Obama is, naturally, perfect. The couple married 16 years ago after meeting at a Chicago law firm. Their first date was a perfect mix of intellectual radicalism and schmaltzy romance: he took her to see Spike Lee's 'Do the Right Thing', bought her an ice-cream at Baskin-Robbins and asked if he could kiss her. "It tasted of chocolate." Throughout the campaign, Mrs Obama's loyalty, style, fierce intelligence and devotion to her family have been judged a, well, perfect balance. She is the "love of my life, the rock of the Obama family, the closer on the campaign trail ..."
Of course, Michelle Obama is the only person who is allowed to find her husband anything less than perfect. She wishes she had met this "Barack Obama the phenomenon", she has said. "The Barack Obama who lives in my house, that guy's not as impressive... He still has trouble putting his socks in the dirty clothes basket, and he still doesn't do a better job than our... daughter Sasha at making his bed, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm a little stunned at this whole Barack Obama thing."