A Warm Heart for Mr. Cool

Okay, he's tall and lean and moves with the kind of grace reserved for left coast, closely-guarded celebrity sorts. His sunglasses are hip and his civilian "uniform" is not your usual businessman/politician's sartorial statement. And, of course, he doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve or indulge in confessional rhetoric.

But isn't it time for those who mistook president-elect Barack Obama's outward demeanor, his hard won confidence and his grown-up reserve for "too cool for school" to revise their reviews and take a new measure of the man?

For those of us who have been on this unlikely journey from the beginning, we always knew Barack Obama had a heart. We read Dreams From My Father and were deeply moved by the story of his search for self; we saw the tenderness in him when he appeared with Michelle and when he wrapped his long arms around the girls. And when we saw him from time to time, we were lucky enough to get a hug or an inquiry about things in our own lives.

In recent weeks, whether it was watching the President-elect soldier through his speech in North Carolina after learning of his grandmother's death or gazing up at his solemn expression in Grant Park as he addressed tens of thousands of his countrymen counting on him for protection and restoration of the America they love, there was no mistaking that Barack Obama felt things deeply.

The voters finally figured out what the pundits never could. They saw that his concern for them was genuine. Obama listened to them and that meant a lot more than bowling a strike or sharing a beer. They came to see that he wasn't faking it and that his reserve was just that...reserve, not coolness, as in cold.

I have a wild hope that when the new first family moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the spate of reality shows will fall off and Americans will decide that keeping a little something to themselves is not such a bad thing. They might even determine that the true cool is being authentic and take their heart out when it really means something.