Obama's Like Jazz? New York Times Touts 'President of the Cool' Op-ed

President Obama’s approval ratings are in the dumps, but there are still die-hards on the black Left. On Thursday, the top center of the New York Times op-ed page carried author Ishmael Reed’s latest Obama defense, titled “The President of the Cool.” The pull quote was “Barack Obama embodies the soul of bebop jazz.”

How in the tank is Ishmael Reed? In 2010, he published a book of essays with the title “Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers.” Reed still sounds just like a liberal journalist in 2008, crowing about Obama’s coolness and “regal bearing”:  

Democrats have more of an affinity for jazz than Republicans. [Okay, if that’s true, I’m an exception.] Even Jimmy Carter, not everybody's idea of a hipster, invited Dizzy Gillespie to the White House. But among the Democrats, President Obama is the one who comes closest to the style of bebop called "the Cool."

Cool jazz is exemplified by the saxophone of Lester Young and his protégé Stan Getz; the trumpet of Miles Davis (especially on his 1957 album "Birth of the Cool"); the vibraphone of Milt Jackson and the song stylings of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and June Christy.

Like the president, cool musicians carried themselves with a regal bearing. Some members of the generation before them had to engage in minstrel-like antics to make a living. Cool musicians demanded respect, and when attacked didn't blow up, but, like the president, responded stoically. One of his favorite words is "persistence," the attitude of his hero, the saxophonist Sonny Rollins, the greatest surviving bebopper.

Later came this truly salesmanlike paragraph about meeting Obama in San Francisco:

After being introduced, the president just about bounced onto the stage. A few days earlier I had heard a commentator say he seemed in the dumps these days. That afternoon he was fresh, unruffled - in other words, cool. (Maybe it was because our state's health-insurance exchange, Covered California, demonstrates how well the Affordable Care Act works when implemented correctly: My youngest daughter got a silver plan that drastically reduces her monthly premiums within an hour of applying.)


Amazon.com described Reed’s “Jim Crow Media” book with this blurb:

Angry and hilarious, this collection of satirical essays about Barack Obama confronts the racial tensions that have dogged the president during his campaign and first year in office. Some of the pieces include "Ma and Pa Clinton Flog Uppity Black Man," "Crazy Rev. Wright," and "Obama Scolds Black Fathers, Gets Bounce in Polls."

In “Crazy Rev. Wright,” Reed swung wildly against Catholic pundits at MSNBC like Tim Russert and Pat Buchanan: “Have these panelists, who are so critical of Rev. Wright, disassociated themselves from a church that had to pay 2 billion dollars to people who’ve been sexually abused by priests? Both the last pope and the current one attempted to cover up the scandal.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis