This is probably my young age showing, but I hate the notion that people have to be somber and serious to be effective adults. I'm not a particularly serious person, but I've done all right for myself while winding up in some wacky pictures along the way. Eliot Cohen would hate me.
In truth, all smartphone/character arguments are moot. Smartphones have only been around for a few years, so it's unfair to tar them as a sign of a society off its rails. I'm pretty sure the baby boomers, the Greatest Generation and everyone before them would have been all over smartphones had they been a thing in the past. Apparently Cohen and his ilk disagree, assuming that a smartphone in earlier decades would have been shunned because those generations were just too industrious.
Give me a break. Every generation has its Big Thing that previous generations hold up as proof that we're in decline, and every generation has its curmudgeons who attempt to apply that trend to the nation's leadership. I'm sure there was someone in the 1950s who thought Dwight Eisenhower smiled too much, which made that person pine for the salad days of Calvin Coolidge.
In Cohen's case, he seems to especially yearn for the presidency of George W. Bush, whose cowboy mannerisms, flight suits, watched drives, folksy nicknames and grim vice president apparently reflected a time of "gravitas, sobriety, perseverance and constancy."
I'll take the better president who takes selfies, thanks.