President Obama: the Celebrity-in-Chief<br />
(So What?)

President Barack Obama and George Clooney

How ironic that an entertainer guised as a political thinker takes issue with a politician using celebrity for his own gain.

Last week provocateur for sport Rush Limbaugh assailed President Obama for recent campaign ads featuring actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. The ads – used for fundraising initiatives – were dismissed by Limbaugh as “Celebrity of the United States kind of stuff.” To wit, the conservative talk show host christened the president “Barack Hussein Kardashian.”

He explained: “He is becoming the male Kim Kardashian with this stuff, and it's been building. He is Celebrity of the United States; he is not the President. And he is actively, and his whole team's out there pushing this.”

So are we going to start calling Mitt Romney “Mittens Trump?”

Meagan McCain echoed Limbaugh's sentiments about the ads, asking, "Why in the world would you OK something like this?"

That’s easy: they serve their purpose.

She is her father’s daughter, though. If you recall, in a 2008 campaign ad from her father John McCain, the then Republican presidential nominee spliced images of Obama with those of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton to dub him “the biggest celebrity in the world.” More recently, a Karl Rove-linked super PAC called American Crossroads unveiled an ad attacking President Obama as a “celebrity president.”

The spot posed the question: "AFTER 4 YEARS OF A CELEBRITY PRESIDENT IS YOUR LIFE ANY BETTER?"

Well, there’s only so much anyone even a “celebrity” can do with a contemptuous Congress.

While those on the right are leading the charge on this cliché complaint about Obama, there are others not amused by his use of the entertainment industry. Following his appearance on The View in May, Entertainment Weekly writer Ken Tucker asked the president to stop doing entertainment shows.

Tucker advised: “If you’re going to spend time on TV, Mr. President — and Mr. Romney — do us all a favor and skip Whoopi and The Daily Show and Jay and Dave and the Jimmys and all the celebrity news anchors on the networks. Just speak to us directly, or engage in debates that are real debates which will allow for considered thought and direct questioning of your opponent’s positions.”

First, you’re not the demographic, Mr. Tucker. Secondly, while meaningful political dialogue that attentive voters pay attention to and base their voting choices on is ideal, it’s also unrealistic. See the reality show like-turn the 2012 Republican presidential race quickly took.

While I’m well aware that this trite narrative about President Obama will be a constant until November, I for one admire the way in which Obama has skillfully recognized how dominant celebrity culture has become and reacted appropriately. The same can be said of the First Lady whose “Let’s Move Campaign” undoubtedly got a boost thanks to Beyoncé lending her likeness, voice and jig to the anti-childhood obesity program.

Maybe Obama doesn’t have the most substantive conversations on The View (however, his interview with Jon Stewart was actually quite engaging), but he is reaching the ever-growing amount of people who get their news from these outlets versus traditional ones. People he’s going to need to help him keep Mitt Romney out of the White House unless he’s on a guest tour.

Conservatives and political purists can bemoan how awful Obama’s tactics are in the grand scheme of things, but let’s stop pretending a celebrity president is a bad thing in an era where celebrity increasingly trounces everything else.  If anyone knows this, it’s a talk show host who by merit doesn’t deserve half the influence he yields. Ditto for the daughter of a famous senator and war hero.

Have I ever been like, “Damn, Mr. President? When’s your album dropping?” At times, though I’d rather be making that joke than having to fix my fingers to type “President Romney” beyond this single sentence. There are worse things to be in 2012 than a Kardashian. So do your thing and be everywhere, superstar. It only shows just how in touch you are.

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick