US politics: Cool for 'crats - Americas - World - The Independent

US politics: Cool for 'crats

With Barack Obama's star power, Joe Biden's GSOH and Hillary Clinton's love of fun, who'd be a Republican? Tim Walker on America's most happening party

During a recent appearance on the US chat show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the actor Jason Segel revealed he'd received a letter from Hillary Clinton. Segel had expressed an interest in appearing onscreen with the Secretary of State, who responded that she'd be happy to take up his offer in the future. "My only condition," she wrote, using a Woody Allenesque typeface, "is that there be Muppets involved." In the past month, Clinton has also been photographed on the dance floor of a Cartagena, Colombia nightclub, and met the co-creators of the joke Tumblr blog "Texts from Hillary" at the State Department. This sort of behaviour conforms to a historical trend: it may not win them elections, but Democrats are undoubtedly cooler than Republicans.

Exhibit one – the presidential candidates: Mormon 15-time grandfather Mitt Romney, unspeakably wealthy former CEO of Bain Capital; and Barack Obama, who plays basketball and has his own Pinterest page. Soon after the President sang a line of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at a fundraising event (cool), Romney performed three verses of "America the Beautiful" on the campaign trail (not cool). At last weekend's White House correspondents' dinner, Obama was in his element – not only cracking jokes, but laughing at the ones cracked at his expense. When Romney tells "jokes", they tend to be reported as "gaffes".

Meanwhile, Vice-President Joe Biden – whose own gaffes somehow inspire more affection than ridicule – is guaranteed to be cooler than whomever Romney picks as his running mate. For the past four years, the VP has been a favourite target for satirical news site The Onion, which portrays him not as a teetotal family man, but as a rogueish playboy who washes his Trans-Am, shirtless, in the White House driveway. Like Clinton, Biden embraced the joke. "I think it's hilarious, the stuff they do on me," he told a Yahoo! interviewer last year. "By the way, I have a Corvette – a '67 Corvette – not a Trans-Am."

Despite the best efforts of Messrs Reagan, Schwarzenegger and Norris, the Democrats remain the party of Hollywood (cool), while the Republicans remain the party of Big Oil, bankers and Walmart (not cool). Clinton, Biden and Obama have all appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Romney has not. For straightforward political reasons, parties of the left generally appeal more to young people, while parties of the right generally appeal more to older people. Young people are cooler than old people. QED.

Being cool gets you only so far, however. In 2008, John McCain's campaign released an ad describing Obama as "the biggest celebrity in the world", and attacking him for shallowness. It dented the Democrat's poll lead, briefly. When Obama appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on 24 April, "slow-jamming" the news that he'd asked Congress to stop an increase in the interest rate on student loans, Republicans expressed outrage. The President, said his uncool opponents, had coolly made light of a serious issue. Within days, conservative group American Crossroads produced a new attack ad, called "Cool". "After four years of a celebrity president," it asks, over clips of Obama dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, "is your life any better?" Dude, that is so not cool.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week