Do you know who Snooki is? I didn’t until I encountered Tevi Troy’s excellent new book What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted.

Snooki, it turns out, is a “petite starlet” who appears on a TV show called “Jersey Shore.” It was a reference to Snooki by President Obama that inspired Tevi to write his insightful book about the interplay between American culture and American presidents. I’m indebted to Snooki.

Obama made his Snooki reference in an attempt at comedy at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. His one-liner was:

The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, J-WOWW, the Situation, and House Minority Leader John Boehner.

Who is J-WOWW? Never mind.

The next day, appearing on The View, Obama said he doesn’t know who Snooki is. But Obama’s opponent in the presidential race claimed to be a Snooki fan. Mitt Romney explained:

Look how tiny she’s gotten; she’s lost weight; she’s energetic; just her spark-plug personality is kind of fun.

People have become celebrities for less.

These Snooki references caused Tevi to wonder: are we better off with a president who knows who Snooki is, or a president who doesn’t know who Snooki is? I would say that, given the state of our culture and our politics, we’re equally snookered in either case, though I prefer the latter president on aesthetic grounds.

But given a president who talks about Snooki, we’d be better off if the president knew who she is.


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