How to Buy an Obama-Filled Life

It occurred to me late Tuesday, after 11 straight hours of uninterrupted cable news, bleary-eyed and drunk on hope, that perhaps there really isn't anything Barack Obama can't do. In a few short months, the 47-year-old had gone from mere mortal-unknown to deity who inspires man-crushes all across this great country. He's become an international rock star, the fulfillment of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, a gifted orator with the charisma of JFK, the intellect of Einstein and the coolness of Kanye West. He is the most awesome father around, the husband every woman dreams of, he wears skinny suits and can sink three-pointers. He is already on his way to achieving world peace. Barack Obama is, basically, the greatest man to ever walk this earth.

With that in mind, I set out to answer a pressing question: if Barack could solve every other problem in the entire world, could he fix the age-old challenge of our daily survival, too? What would a day be like if a person were dependent solely on Barack—for, well, everything?

The challenge seemed plausible enough: Spend a day consuming nothing but Barack. Drink Obama beer, wear Obama clothes, read his books, maybe even plan a vacation in the town that bears his name (Obama, Japan). If I survived—if Obama commerce (Obammerce?) could truly sustain me—might it be able to sustain America, too?

Marketing experts estimate this new Obammerce is already a multimillion dollar industry, and one that could reach into the billions. "It's really amazing," says Bruce Newman, a marketing professor at DePaul University, in Obama's hometown, and the editor of a political marketing journal. "And it'll last as long as long as the excitement is there."

Political souvenirs are a common feature of presidential inaugurations—and for decades, retailers have cashed in on them. But what's different this time around—obviously—is the level of obsession., a Web portal for retailers, touts 455 Obama-themed tchotchkes—from bobbleheads to mouse pads to belts and neckties. Vendors all over the world are placing Obama's face alongside the great icons of the world: Che, Warhol, John Lennon. There is "Hot 4 You" Obama hot sauce, an Obama Chia Pet—even corporate giants like Pepsi and Ikea want a piece of this sweet man. Pepsi's new logo is a reworking of Obama's over-the-horizon mark; it's new ad campaign emblazoned with words like "Hope," "Optimism," and "Change." In Washington, Ikea unveiled its own campaign to "Embrace Change" with an Ikea-furnished replica of the Oval Office inside the city's Union Station.

Washington retailer Jim Warlick, whose Political Americana souvenir shop is just steps from the White House, says sales are triple anything he's seen in 28 years (and eight inaugurations) in the business. All week, he's kept his store open until midnight, only to show up each morning with a line extending out the door. His foreign sales have been so huge he's even considering merchandising worldwide. "I love that man," says Warlick, of Obama. "The only person I can think that might rival his popularity right now is the Pope."

My thoughts exactly. And so we begin our inquiry into how a person might spend a day in Barack's shoes, among other things. The play-by-play.