As a middle-aged white man, married to an African-American woman who has two teen-aged sons, I am, regrettably, often reminded that I need to "pick up my swag." Such advice has manifested itself in a number of ways. For instance, when shopping at the Nike Outlet on 87th and Cottage Grove, I had picked a box of Nike trainers that I thought looked good and were practical. When I showed them to my stepson, I was immediately met with a stern head shake plainly informing me to "put the box back on the shelf" and with the question, "Are you 100 years old?"
On another occasion, my wife and I were going out for one of those rare nights to a nice restaurant and whatever else and I came downstairs to wait while she finished getting ready. I was confronted by one of my stepsons with the question, "You're wearing that?" "That was the plan," I responded. Just as quickly, he said, "Well, your plan has no swag. What are those, khakis? Go put on some nice jeans." I turned tail and did what I was told.
Swag. Or swagger. Either way you say it, you either have it or you don't. You can get help, as I do. But, those who have swag don't need help. They know how to dress when going out on a Friday night. They know how to button a shirt just right or fold the shirt sleeves up just so. They know the right way to walk down the street whether wearing Timberlands or wearing Guccis. And they know how to hold a woman's hand in precisely the right way.
After yesterday's inauguration of President Obama and the subsequent activities - luncheon, review of troops, parade and parties - it became abundantly clear to me that not only is President Obama the Commander in Chief, but he is also the Commander of Swagger. Agree with his political philosophies or not, but you can not help but admire the man's ability to up his swagger at the precise moments. As the above photo reflects, can anyone - Jay-Z, Tom Brady, George Clooney, Paul Ryan - possibly outdo this guy's swagger? It's not just the fact that he is able to dance with his beautiful wife (although the fact that she looks good helps up his swagger as well), any President can dance on the presidential seal. This President, however, has the smooth and graceful bearings to make it seem effortless.
Again, all of the presidents before him have marched in parades and, some of them, in their inaugural parades. I'd venture to say, however, that none of them walked with Barack Obama's style and finesse. Where's the swagger in this photo, you ask? You've got to be kidding. Check out the topcoat, only buttoned at the top button. A brilliant move and oozing with swagger. Not to mention the leather gloves peeking out of his coat pocket. The wave and smile are perfect; his wife is doing her thing, but remains close at hand and they are both surrounded by secret service agents. Totally swagged out.
After all is said and done, it can be said that just being the President of the United States provides you with a significant swagger quotient. While that may be true, how far you increase that quotient is up to the holder of the office. Recent presidents provide examples along the entire swagger spectrum: Ronald Reagan - had a lot of 1940's movie swag when elected which he actually increased. Bill Clinton - had no swag when elected, but had a roller-coaster ride with his eight years of swagger. George W. Bush - he probably had more swagger when he came in from his oil money than when he left.
President Obama has taken swag to a new level. As the photo above reflects, here is a man whose confidence seems to rise as the significance of the occasion rises as well. Throughout his inauguration day, he carried himself like the boss of this country that he is. That is swagger.
Every step was perfect. Each wave and finger point came at the most appropriate moment. He bro-hugged Vice-President Biden with the finesse of any pro athlete. When it was time to be solemn and remain still when reviewing our troops, President Obama did that with swagger as well.
You can't teach what this man has. You can only watch and learn. So, I'm trying to watch and I'm trying to learn and, fortunately, I had the day off of work yesterday so I was able to spend the day in my swag studies. To see preliminary results, you can check me out at the Nike Outlet at 87th and Cottage, on Saturday at around noon. I'll welcome your thoughts.
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