When Barack Obama takes office as president in January, he'll make history.
As the first commander in chief conversant in geek, of course.
True, the young Bill Clinton collected comics, and the young Ronald Reagan devoured science fiction, but arguably no White House occupant was ever as steeped in the culture as a responsible adult as Obama, the fan and name-dropper of Spider-Man, Superman and a certain U.S.S. Enterprise engineer.
"Just the notion that perhaps someone that may have learned a bit of ethics and morality from [Gene] Roddenberry's future dream for mankind, or is familiar with Spider-Man's 'with great power comes great responsibility,' well, it warms my soul," says Ain't It Cool's Harry Knowles.
A more detailed look at Obama's fanboy résumé:
- He reads, no, collects, London's Telegraph reported, Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarbian.
- He may or may not collect Harry Potter books, but according to the Telegraph, he's read them. All of them.
- Per an account in Newsweek, at a campaign rally in May in Iowa, he walked up to wife Michelle's belt buckle, tapped it and said, "The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!" (It's unclear if Obama, or Newsweek, confused lithium for the essential Star Trek component, dilithium.)
- According to the New York Post, he once greeted Leonard Nimoy with the Vulcan "live long and prosper" salute.
- At a black-tie roast in October, he revealed his secret identity (and his more than passing familarlity with the Superman legend), announcing, "I was actually born on Krypton, and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the planet Earth."
- In Ohio on the weekend before Election Day, he accused John McCain of being Kato to President Bush's Green Lantern. (One minus point for mixing up Green Lantern with Kato's real boss, the Green Hornet. One bonus point pulling the somewhat-obscure Lantern out of his apparently hero-stuffed memory banks.)
- In 2006, he posed, arms akimbo, in front of the Superman statue in Metropolis, Illinois.
- In the biggest geek move of all, he posted the Superman picture on his Senate website.
Taken on the whole, Obama's leanings beg the question: How long before he calls out Terence Stamp for Gen. Zod's assault on the White House in Superman II?
"I don't know if it's another sign of geeks inheriting the earth," says Liz Walsh, artist of the online comic the Tao of Geek. "But I definitely think it's become a more mainstream, acceptable hobby."