Young Newsweek Reporter Touts How Under-30 Crowd Finds the Obamas 'The Swooniest Couple Around'
Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano, a specialist in the youth vote (because he's Princeton '04), attempts to describe how he found the under-30 generation adores the marital bliss of the Obamas in this week's magazine. The article is headlined "Our Model Marriage: The Obamas have the kind of relationship millennials aspire to." Romano described how his contemporaries were much wilder in their enthusiasm for the Obamas than they were for rapper Kanye West, and how they have become for young voters "the swooniest couple around."
Kanye West is a tough act to follow -- unless you are a middle-aged couple slow dancing to tuba music. It's unlikely that anyone watching last month's Youth Inaugural Ball on TV noticed much difference between how the crowd of millennials welcomed the Louis Vuitton don and how they reacted, a few minutes later, when Barack and Michelle Obama took the stage. But if you were actually in the audience -- like me, and my eardrums -- the change was impossible to ignore. The young people screamed. The young people sighed. Several young people even began to weep. "I hope my husband looks at me like that someday," said one girl. When the song stopped, Obama leaned into the mike. "That's what's called 'old school'," he cracked. The new-school crowd responded like a bunch of banshees.
At the time, I attributed the scene to inauguration-induced hysteria. But since Jan. 20, a dozen peers have confirmed that what I witnessed in Washington wasn't a fluke. "Yeah," a friend admitted. "I'm totally obsessed with the two of them together." Which got me thinking: have the president and his wife become for 20-somethings what the stars of "Twilight" are for tweens -- the swooniest couple around? And if so, what does that say about us? [Italics his.]
Romano and Newsweek don't seem to consider that perhaps a screaming and weeping crowd at an Obama inaugural ball might not be the most representative cross-section of under-30 Americans, even if Obama drew more votes in that age group. Surely, Newsweek never assumed that everyone under 30 in the 1980s was screaming and weeping over the Reagans.
By all appearances, the Obamas seem to have a sound marriage that can be admired. For one of those jaded journalists, Romano never lets on to readers that perhaps how the Obamas behave in TV interviews and televised events might have a smidgen of political calculation in it. Those swooning media elites can't argue that George and Laura Bush didn't have a strong marriage, but apparently, it's not a "model marriage" because liberals assert there's no equality in it. Maybe they just can't admire the marriage because they didn't adore the man, as they do Obama. Romano claimed there's not much hope to be drawn from recent White House marriages:
My hunch is that millennials are going gaga over Barack and Michelle because they want to be Barack and Michelle. It's not that other generations can't admire the Obamas' bond; their marriage -- a union of self-sufficient equals -- embodies the post-'60s ideal. But unlike their elders, most millennials have yet to experience marriage firsthand, and what they've experienced by proxy hasn't been particularly encouraging: a 50 percent divorce rate, a steep rise in single parenthood, a culture captivated by cheap celebrity hookups. Even America's most visible household hasn't offered much hope, veering from '50s-era subservience (the Reagans) to boomer dysfunction (the Clintons). But now the Obamas – two independent individuals who also appear to be (surprise!) in love – have filled the void. For young people who have rejected the tired "wife in the kitchen" template but resolved not to follow their parents to divorce court, it's a relief to see that the sort of marriage they hope to have – equal and devoted – can actually exist.
These first three paragraphs in the Newsweek piece don't have any real "news" in it, no hard facts, just a young liberal man discussing how he and his friends loved an Inaugural ball and his "hunches" over why they adore the Obamas as role models. It makes you wonder if the "news" magazine is already extinct.
Romano concluded with admiring how Obama is willing to "let himself seem vulnerable, even submissive" in his public appearances:
But ultimately I think it's the Obamas' willingness to act in public much how they act in private – open, informal, flirtatious – that has incited most of the swooning. At the Youth Ball, I noticed the president do something that's impossible to imagine any of his predecessors doing: resting his head, eyes closed, on Michelle's shoulder. It reminded me of other times Obama has let himself seem vulnerable, even submissive....These unguarded moments once led Slate's Melinda Henneberger to ask "whether a husband who not only bows to his wife but admits it conforms to our notion of … strength." For millennials inspired by the first couple's modern marriage – a group that sees greater strength in celebrating domestic equality than concealing it – the answer is apparently yes. After all, anything less would be, like, totally old school.