President Obama was always cool under pressure

The Secret Service calls him "Renegade" - the renegade. The code word hits the mind of the outgoing US president pretty well. Again and again during his tenure, Barack Obama caused an uproar among the elite agents who guard the most powerful man in the world day and night. In the White House, which the Secret Service protects like a modern fortress, it was sometimes too cramped for Obama. He wanted to get out on the streets of Washington, walk through the park, drink coffee at Starbucks, shake hands with the Americans. And he did. Just because.

"Off-the-record" events are called Obama's spontaneous excursions, which regularly put his bodyguards on alert. While German politics is usually not very entertaining, the Americans have probably had the most casual leader ever in recent years. A basketball player, series lover, baseball fan, quick-witted, funny, the president next door. "Prez" as real fans say.

Maybe it was this image that made him popular in this country (and despite which he was so unpopular in the US at times). Social media was Obama's most loyal companion on his way to becoming the nation's top entertainer. The current president is followed by almost 80 million users on Twitter and 52 million on Facebook.

In 2012, Obama defended the Oval Office against Republican Mitt Romney. His press team then tweeted a photo of him and his wife Michelle: "Four more years" - to this day one of the most shared tweets of all time. The photographer Pete Souza, a key figure in the Obama's social media machinery since 2008, staged the president with babies and dogs, in private cinemas, on the basketball court, in the supermarket. The private person Barack, it should look like, is just an ordinary American.

Obama was the first incumbent president on a late night show

Let's imagine for a moment, it is Thursday evening, 10:15 pm, the "Neo Magazin Royale" is running on ZDFneo. Jan Böhmermann pokes at the politics of the day, the audience hoots, then the satirist announces the next guest. Two minutes later, Angela Merkel is sitting next to him on the couch. 200,000 spectators are glued to the screens. First question to the Chancellor: "Do you laugh at Frauke Petry sometimes?" The chances of a fun evening would be rather slim. Obama answered exactly this question (before the election, of course) with US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel about Trump: "Sure, all day."

The SZ editorial team has enriched this article with content from YouTube

To protect your data, it was not loaded without your consent.

I consent to content from YouTube being displayed to me. In this way, personal data is transmitted to the operator of the portal for usage analysis. You can find more information and the possibility of revocation at sz.de/datenschutz.

This external content was loaded automatically because you agreed to it.

Top politicians in the United States are - unlike us - regular guests on late-night shows. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders have already sat on Ellen DeGeneres and David Letterman's sofas. In 2009, Obama broke a taboo and became the first incumbent president to attend a talk show, Jay Leno's Tonight Show. At that time he announced that he would be overhauling the banks and leading America out of the financial crisis.

Obama's later appearances were much funnier when Leno asked him in 2012 what Trump actually had against him (he had questioned several times whether Obama was an American at all) and the President said: "It all started when we were children in Kenya at." This was followed by appearances with Jon Stewart, Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman.

Special memories are made of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who visited Obama in Washington in 2015 and chauffeured him around the White House in an old Chevrolet C2. The two joked about Obama's popularity, which is said to be high even with young children. "I look a bit like a cartoon character," said the president on board the classic car.

The SZ editorial team has enriched this article with content from Twitter

To protect your data, it was not loaded without your consent.

I consent to content from Twitter being displayed to me. In this way, personal data is transmitted to the operator of the portal for usage analysis. You can find more information and the possibility of revocation at sz.de/datenschutz.

This external content was loaded automatically because you agreed to it.

Singer, comedian, athlete: a completely normal American

From 2012 onwards, Obama and his advisors dared more. The old president was the new one too. When stars like Mick Jagger and the late singer B. B. King gave concerts in the White House, the president had to answer the microphone. A little shyly, he sings part of the blues anthem "Sweet Home Chicago", much more likely a tribute to Ray Charles. On the national holiday, he also agreed to sing a birthday serenade for daughter Malia - in front of a full house.

Sometimes it seemed like Obama was actually in good hands in the comedy industry. In 2015 he was featured in the Buzzfeed website's "Things Everyone Does But Nobody Talks About" video. In front of the mirror he makes faces, takes selfies (yes, with a stick) and practices basketball throws. When one of his employees catches him doing it, the president reacts annoyed. He just wants to live his life once in a while. There will soon be time for that. Trump will take over the business of the White House from January.

To what extent Obama ultimately used his casual appearances, or perhaps even harmed them, remains unclear. He himself never said why he kept pushing his self-referential, sometimes even arrogant humor into the foreground and why he was always up for fun. What arguably was part of their Saturday night entertainment for many people on the east and west coasts may have caught on as snooty behavior in the Midwest and the Rust Belt. Obama was bubbling with self-confidence at some appearances and never missed an opportunity to emphasize what a cool guy he actually was. Could Trump take advantage of it in the election campaign? Obama may not have defused the accusation of aloof politics in Washington.

At the traditional White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, to which the President invites the upper class of Washington to dinner, Mr. Cool ended his closing speech with the words "Obama Out!". Then he dropped the mic elegantly. A gesture that shows: This is final. The scene known as "micro-drop" quickly spread to social media, the Guardian even let himself be carried away into calling it a document of contemporary history that historians will be talking about 100 years from now. The Prez era is now over. It is to be expected that Donald Trump will take a different path.