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May 14, 2010

On TV, you get a sense that this is a special guy. There’s never a verbal gaffe. Never a bewildered look on his face. Never a question about who is in control.

In person, he is even more impressive. Yes, there’s the POTUS thing, which can make unimposing physical specimens like Nixon and Carter seem larger than life.

What he has goes well beyond that. He has a quality about him that is hard to describe without sounding like you’ve checked your skepticism at the door and become infatuated.  He’s poised. He’s confident. He’s cool.

In a factory in Buffalo yesterday, even the blue collar guys had wide eyes when he walked by. These are fellas whose circle of friends does not include people of color. In fact, these guys who probably told the same jokes that were in Carl Paladino’s emails. And yet, in his presence, they were more than just ok with him. They were clearly for him.   

Now a critical comment:

Politicians who have the natural ability to charm other people sometimes rely on it too much. They think they can talk their way out of any situation. They think they can get on the phone and make problems disappear.

Not so. No amount of personal charm can take the place of forming strategic alliances and having well-conceived policies. This is what makes the difference in the end.  

If Obama remembers this, he can be a very good POTUS.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mark keister permalink
    May 14, 2010 3:27 PM

    You got that right; I have not seen or heard a real sour note – the closest was his Nancy Reagan channeling joke [which was funny] – to steal and paraphrase Mrs. O a bit for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country and its leader; and we’re just getting started!

  2. May 14, 2010 8:37 PM

    You’re right about Obama’s charisma, but also about the danger of his relying on his ability to charm when what’s needed is leadership. He’s displayed that weakness throughout the first 18 months of his presidency. How he handled healthcare was the prime example, but look at how he’s handled Afghanistan. He’s got an ambassador who isn’t on the same page as the leading military figure and all along he assumed he could get Kharzi to play ball, when in fact Kharzi’s interests clash with ours. Obama needed a clear policy and willingness to smashmouth anyone who wasn’t willing to play ball. Instead, Afghanistan is a mess, lives — not to mention billions are being lost, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve stopped watching him in person because I’ve learned it’s ALL BS. Watch what he does, not what he says or how he says it.

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