Obama Needs to Step it Up
Americans are looking for passion, not cool. They are currently more concerned with where the next month's mortgage payment will be coming from than with the global implications of a distant war. To be unflappable maybe a virtue but when you are taking on a war veteran in front of a national audience, you better rid yourself of timidity and start using words that are bold and a vision that is clear. In the debate last night at the Ole Miss, Obama did neither and that was disappointing.
Watching the lackluster give-and-take, I found the images morphing into this exchange:
Sen. McCain: Sen. Obama does not understand ...
Sen. Obama: Sen. McCain is absolutely right ...
What's this with McCain being right, no less "absolutely," in a debate where so much hangs in the balance? It looks like Obama is determined to win the congeniality contest that McCain vows not to.
The best that can be said about this debate is that two more remain in which the senator from Illinois can learn from his mistakes and become more sharp and incisive. He has to be far more convincing in projecting a presidential image, in not straining to prove that he can be magnanimous (he will get plenty of chance for that later) and in decisively proving to Americans that McCain is nothing more than an extension of Bush and his failed policies. One more thing: Please avoid the Kenyan narrative. Plenty of ink has been spilled on the topic. You are not going to persuade swing voters with that. In fact, you might just turn them off.
Come out swinging, Barack! Show some more passion!
P.S. (2 weeks later) Looks like "cool" in the face of provocations goes a long way. Obama's cool has been a huge plus for him. Now I understand what Hemingway meant when he defined courage as "grace under pressure."