Obama amnesia is a fairly common condition. A quick poll of colleagues reveals that the only saying of the new president that has incontestably lodged in our collective brain is: “Yes we can.” A few others mentioned: “Change we can believe in.” There was broad agreement that Mr Obama had made an excellent and profound speech on race in America, although nobody could remember the precise details.

On Tuesday, when he makes his inaugural address in Washington, Mr Obama will doubtless once again blow his audience away. He will also have the chance finally to give a speech whose phrases will resonate through history. But, perhaps, he would be wise once again to pass up the opportunity.

For with Barack Obama, the man is the message.

“What the phenomenon that we’ve seen with Obama is the ‘Obama the politician,’ ‘Obama the political candidate’ sales are over but it’s been replaced with ‘Obama the pop culture icon,'” she said, pointing out that since the election, the number of Obama products for sale has continued to grow.

“It’s almost like what you’ve seen with Che Guevara or Eva Peron, when a political leader has this coolness factor that goes well beyond their political beliefs. They represent something even bigger.”