He’s So Fine: CBS Early Show Explores ‘How Cool is “The Man” Obama?’

On Friday morning’s The Early Show on CBS, viewers were treated to what almost seemed like a parody of Barack Obama’s mainstream media paparazzi fawning over the Democratic President-elect, as the show ran a report exploring the question of "How cool is Obama?" and co-hosts Harry Smith and Tracy Smith referred to Obama as "the man" and "the epitome of cool," respectively. Audio of the classic rock group the Chiffons singing "He’s So Fine" even played as the piece on Obama’s "coolness" began. Tracy Smith oozed as she plugged the segment: "We’re actually talking about how a lot of people think that President-elect Barack Obama is the epitome of cool. Look at that guy. Everything, I mean, even in a baseball cap. Don’t you think?" After Harry Smith referred to a New York Times article about the significance of Obama spending his childhood in Hawaii, Tracy Smith added: "That makes him even cooler."

Later during the 8:00 a.m. hour, Harry Smith introduced the report, which featured soundbites from GQ magazine’s Adam Rapoport and Joyce Corrigan of Marie Claire: "Many people are fascinated by President-elect Obama. They think he’s cool. So just how cool is he? We asked some people in the know."

After the report started with an audio clip of the Chiffons singing "He’s so fine," Rapoport declared that Obama "is someone that you look up to in sort of a pop culture way." After a clip of Rapoport talking about how unreal it feels that someone as "cool" as Obama could be President, Harry Smith gushed that GQ also says Obama is "the man": "But that’s exactly what Barack Obama will be. And as if being leader of the free world isn’t enough, GQ magazine says the man is also ‘the man.’"

Then came a soundbite of Rapoport: "Obama is one of those guys, and you’re just like, ‘That guy is a man.’ He is a man, and everyone around him knows it, and he knows it."

Corrigan compared Obama to a "male model" and, after another clip of Rapoport, Harry Smith continued: "On a ‘cool guy’ checklist, the style experts think Obama qualifies in just about every category."

After more clip of praise from Rapoport and Corrigan, and the revelation that Rapoport is more critical of Obama’s jeans, the story finally took a moment to acknowledge the possibility that Obama may not really be perfect:

HARRY SMITH: But be wary of Obama worship.

ROBERT THOMPSON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF TELEVISION AND POP CULTURE: The Barack Obama administration right now is like the days before Christmas. There’s all this great stuff under the tree, and it’s all promise. Pure magic might be in there. Unfortunately, in those boxes might be a lot of good things, but there’s a lot of bad things that are going to be in those boxes as well.

The report ended as the final soundbite of Rapoport returned to the overall pro-Obama theme: "We’ll see how the next four years go, but so far, he’s walked the walk and talked the talk. And I think, as a guy, you really dig that."

Below is a transcript of the complete report from the Friday, December 26, 2008 The Early Show on CBS, from the 8:00 a.m. hour:

HARRY SMITH: Welcome back to The Early Show. I’m Harry Smith, along with Tracy Smith, and Maggie and Julie are off today.

TRACY SMITH: We’re talking about being cool.

HARRY SMITH: Mmm-hmm.

TRACY SMITH: I mean, you’re cool, but we’re actually talking about how a lot of people think that President-elect Barack Obama is the epitome of cool.

HARRY SMITH: Mmm.

TRACY SMITH: Look at that guy. Everything, I mean, even in a baseball cap.

HARRY SMITH: Right.

TRACY SMITH: Don’t you think?

HARRY SMITH: There was a whole thing in the Times yesterday about his being from Hawaii and a kind of a zen of what it’s like to be from Hawaii and that’s, how that might serve him well in the days and months to come.

TRACY SMITH: That makes him even cooler. There is one fashion faux-pas that he commits, and we’ll talk about that also, coming up.

...

TRACY SMITH, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:16 a.m. Up next, from his aviator sunglasses to his wing-tipped shoes, lot’s of people think Barack Obama is cool. A look at the President-elect’s style when we come back.

...

8:18 a.m.

HARRY SMITH: Many people are fascinated by President-elect Obama. They think he’s cool. So just how cool is he? We asked some people in the know.

CLIP OF THE CHIFFONS SINGING THE SONG "HE’S SO FINE": Do-lang, do-lang. He’s so fine. Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang.

ADAM RAPOPORT, GQ MAGAZINE: The President, all of a sudden, is someone that you look up to in sort of a pop culture way, as kind of a remarkably exciting person to have in charge of us.

HARRY SMITH: Adam Rapoport, the style editor at GQ magazine, knows a thing or two about cool.

RAPOPORT: So I got my little Obama picture here in my desk drawer, which, when I saw this in the Times a few weeks ago, I was just like, all right, that’s not fair, that is too cool, he can’t possibly be President of the United States.

HARRY SMITH: But that’s exactly what Barack Obama will be. And as if being leader of the free world isn’t enough, GQ magazine says the man is also "the man."

RAPOPORT: Obama is one of those guys, and you’re just like, "That guy is a man." He is a man, and everyone around him knows it, and he knows it.

JOYCE CORRIGAN, MARIE CLAIRE: This is Barack Obama coming off his jet on the campaign trail, and it’s almost like a male model image, you know, he’s casual with his hand in his pocket, no tie, loosened shirt top. It’s just altogether, you know, black, white and gray is about as classy as you can get.

RAPOPORT: He looks great without the tie, with the sleeves rolled up. Some of the older politicians, they wear that look and it looks like, [SAID WITH SARCASM] "I’m rolling my sleeves up, I’m getting to work." Obama, he’s not trying to make a point by dressing this way. That’s the way he dresses.

HARRY SMITH: On a "cool guy" checklist, the style experts think Obama qualifies in just about every category.

CORRIGAN: He’s got a perfect, sort of, size 40 long, which is a male model size.

RAPOPORT: He can throw on the baseball cap and look like I actually own this cap and I wear it regularly.

CORRIGAN: Aviator glasses, cool wing-tip shoes.

RAPOPORT: You see those girls, and they’re just so beautiful and so happy. It’s kind of this classic American family.

HARRY SMITH: Rapoport says Obama is guilty, though, of one fashion faux-pas.

RAPOPORT: He could use some help in the jeans department. He’s kind of got the high-waisted bad jeans going. Don’t love those.

HARRY SMITH: Yet, there are plenty of other things he does right.

RAPOPORT: Listen, there’s a lot of guys that will play golf, there’s a lot of guy who plays tennis. That’s not cool, you know. If you can ball, if you can be on the courts, if you can walk down to the gym and get a little pick-up game going, that’s cool. Presidents don’t do that.

BARACK OBAMA: You know, I’ve got pretty eclectic tastes. I’ve got everything from Miles Davis to Stevie Wonder to Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z.

HARRY SMITH: But be wary of Obama worship.

ROBERT THOMPSON, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR OF TELEVISION AND POP CULTURE: The Barack Obama administration right now is like the days before Christmas. There’s all this great stuff under the tree, and it’s all promise. Pure magic might be in there. Unfortunately, in those boxes might be a lot of good things, but there’s a lot of bad things that are going to be in those boxes as well.

RAPOPORT: We’ll see how the next four years go, but so far, he’s walked the walk and talked the talk. And I think, as a guy, you really dig that.