The Year in President Obama’s Pop Culture Bona Fides


Barack Obama’s “Cool President” status has officially reached its meta phase; towards the end of his interview with Jerry Seinfeld on the latter’s lovable vanity project Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, he describes himself using those exact words. In fact, starting with last year’s appearance/healthcare promotion on Between Two Ferns, the President’s been on something of a roll with his pop culture appearances and shoutouts — think of it as part of a more general late-second-term victory lap. In honor of the episode dropping, and the year ending, here are Obama’s biggest savvy PR opportunities Cool President bona fides of the past 12 months.

Making a BuzzFeed Video

Complete with selfie stick. Meet the teens where they live! (He also sat down with the site’s editor-in-chief, but I would bet my Internet connection that the ratio of views on that video to readers of that interview are something like A Lot to Not a Lot.)

Confronting His Twitter Haters

Jimmy Kimmel’s highest-profile “Mean Tweets” guest to date (though let’s be real, no one’s ever going to top Julia Louis-Dreyfus) does not appreciate your semi-ironic “Thanks, Obamas,” nor your comments about his jeans. He does, however, admit the constant ear burns are pretty on point.

Stopping by Marc Maron’s Garage

True to Maron’s ever self-aware, ever self-absorbed persona, the postgame between the WTF host and his producer over what it took to actually make the interview happen may have been even more compelling than the interview itself. That’s no knock on the sitdown between the commander in chief of the United States and the commander in chief of the comedy podcast armada, though; true to the format, it’s a more free-form, casual conversation with the President than we’re accustomed to overhearing. And it got the desired PR/street cred, of course.

Acknowledging Kanye’s Presidential Bid

Obama is hip to the radically egotistical rap icons of today, especially when they’re onstage with him at a San Francisco fundraiser. Even though “Do you really think this country is going to elect a black guy from the South Side of Chicago with a funny name to be president of the U.S.?” is, admittedly, a great and subtle burn of American racism and all the resulting shit he’s had to put up with in office.

Talking Sports with Bill Simmons (Again)

As far as presidential press goes, giving an interview to GQ isn’t terribly far outside the box. Giving an interview to the recently deposed head of Grantland (who wasted no opportunity to slip Obama’s shoutout into the intro as a subtle FU to ESPN) about, among other things, sports, Game of Thrones, and not giving a damn during his last year in office? Slightly more unorthodox. The second-term Obama victory lap, in his own words: “There’s no doubt that the longer I’m in this job, the more confident I am about the decisions I’m making and more knowledgeable about the responses I can expect. And as a consequence, you end up being looser.”

Running Wild with Bear Grylls

Obama decided to shill for climate change awareness over health care enrollment for a change by 1) appearing on a survivalist reality show and 2) taking a widely circulated selfie with said reality show’s host. Imagine telling the 2004 version of you that the medium of Survivor and American Idol would eventually be legit enough for the President to stop by.