The 2012 general election unofficially kicked off yesterday with Mitt Romney having swept five state primaries the night before to effectively lock up his party’s nomination and President Obama in the news once again for… being cool.
Say what you want about Obama’s policies, the guy is still cool. He did a legitimately funny skit playing the straight man to Jimmy Fallon, the guy who has somehow beat out Conan O’Brien for the role of coolest late-night host—but the true cool moment came immediately following, when Obama dropped the mic. There was a moment of surprise and then sheer delight in Fallon’s face when he followed with his own mic drop and we were all left wondering, How does the president even know the phrase “drop the mic,” say nothing of pulling his own mic drop on late-night TV?
The mic drop was fucking cool. And hilarious.
Of course, not everyone thought so. The internet immediately flooded with hand-wringing about how Obama should never do anything funny while so many are unemployed, and the Romney campaign, whose leader almost definitely has never dropped a mic, tried to whip up controversy by claiming the slow-jam was an outrage.
Think Progress points out Romney’s senior strategist Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted that it wasn’t cool for Obama to be “cracking jokes” about the unemployed and “making light” of the bad economy, with the hashtag #NotFunny. The RNC issued a press release contrasting Romney’s self-serious victory speech on Tuesday night to Obama’s Fallon appearance called “A Tale of Two Leaders,” meant to cast Obama as trivial and ineffective.
Even some Death and Taxes readers found cause for outrage, with comments like “Slowjamming while millions are unemployed= epic fail.” But at the risk of sounding crazy cynical, these comments miss the point: It simply doesn’t matter who the president is. The interests that dictate policy are powerful, complex, often invisible. We had a more progressive tax code under Reagan than we do now. The idea that things change drastically depending on the president’s supposed values is a mirage.
There are some notable exceptions like Obama’s repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” but in terms of what people argue over—the economy, the tax code, abortion rights, federal marriage equality—a Romney presidency and an Obama presidency probably would be so simliar it’s not worth sweating over.
As long as the president is going to be a figurehead, I appreciate at least having one who knows how to drop the mic on late-night TV.