The Power of Cool

When Barack Obama two years ago joked at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that potential suitors of his two daughters might have to deal with Predator drones (“But boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming.”), the liberal crowd roared. That failed macabre joke would have earned George W. Bush a week of headline condemnation from the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Obama, in fact, has increased those judge/jury/executioner targeted assassinations tenfold during his tenure. But apparently, the combination of Obama’s postracial “cool” and the video-game nature of such airborne death — no CNN clips of charred torsos and smoldering legs, no prisoners with their ACLU lawyers in Guantanamo, no Seymour Hersh exposé on a Waziristan granny who was vaporized for being too near her terrorist-suspect grandson, no American losses for Code Pink and Moveon.org to demonstrate against — earned general exemption for that new liberal way of war. What bothered us about the Predator strikes in 2006–2008 was not the kills per se but the uncool nature of twangy Texan George Bush, who ordered them.

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