I realize we are irretrievably in the Age of Informality. People will soon be wearing baseball caps to their own weddings. President Obama and the Republican presidential candidates can frequently be found with their collars open and sporting the same slacks they wear on the couch watching college football, desperate to seem just regular guys and be loved by each and every one of us.
So while I was slightly sickened, I was not completely shocked to find that the president of the United States is sending out emails with the subject line “Hey.”
“Hey dude, prezzz here, you gettin’ you holidays on or what?”
No, he didn’t say that, but he might as well have. Actually he wanted money – three bucks, to be exact – before the Obama campaign has to close the books on 2011.
About the deadline tonight: It matters.
If you can, please give $3 or more today:
Well thanks Barack. But how about a little less familiartity on your part? It matters.
The president of the United States is our prime minister and monarchy all rolled into one. He not only does the business of government, but he attends to ceremonial matters in his role as head of state.
In that role, we expect someone we can look up to, someone with a little more class than the rest of us. You know, like, a leader.
At least the queen has to good sense not to let her hair down. She knows that a aura of superiority is what keeps her on her throne. If Brits were to somehow find out that she goes to the bathroom just like they do, the game would be up.
In America, we want it both ways. We want our presidents to have some elan, but we also want them born in a log cabin. We want to play cards with Harry Truman, but we want to be dazzled by John F. Kennedy and Camelot.
But even Harry Truman would not have addressed us with a “hey.”
Obama, who was sold to us as something surpassingly genuine, actually likes to pretend he’s someone he’s not. All his town halls on people’s back porches, trips to Best Buy, and dinners with three dollar donors doesn’t change that he is a card carrying member of the elite liberal ruling class.
He was admitted around college or law school, and that’s where his soul has resided ever since. Recently, with book sales buoyed by his presidential success, he’s gained the financial status commensurate with his social standing.
He should act that way. The regular guy stuff diminishes both him and the presidency. More than classy or low-brow, friendly or stiff, Americans want one thing more than anything else in their leader: Authenticity.
“Hey,” is phony. And it’s puny for a president.