Barack, just be yourself

People often cover plywood with paint, but few would advocate painting over fine cherry furniture. Many of us will dump a mountain of ketchup on greasy fries, but few would do the same to a choice cut of filet mignon. Changing a house’s exterior paint color can make it look bright and new, but no one would suggest repainting the White House beige.  

Many things in life can be improved by a snip here and a tuck there: other things are best left alone.

Barack Obama may well be the most gifted speaker of his generation, especially when speaking before a large crowd and offering an inspirational message. So what has his campaign done?

You got it: a snip here and a tuck there.

As Josh Marshall notes today (discussing a similar point made by E.J. Dionne) Obama has been gradually moving away from the kind of campaigning that put him on top:

One point E.J. mentions that I’ve noticed too. Beside his convention speech, I can’t think of a time in the last week or so that I saw Obama in front of a crowd. The appearances that I’m seeing showing up on TV during the day (an incomplete but probably not unrepresentative sampling) all look like there in front of a hundred or so people in a library or something. I wonder whether the celeb thing has just gotten inside his people’s collective head and they’re afraid to get him in front of real crowds.

If so, it’s a very bad mistake. He has to be who he is. He can’t run from his strengths. And he needs to charge up the people who want to be in the trenches with him. Excitement is infectious.

Exactly. Having been pushed by pundits (and, yes, bloggers too) to be more specific in his policy positions, he now often comes across almost wonkish in his public statements. And having, for whatever reason, largely abandoned his trademark speeches before large crowds (or at least he has exiled them from his ad campaign), he often seems flat and uninspiring.

Obama needs to get back to doing what he does best: speaking to large crowds, getting folks excited and reminding us of the nobler aspects of our souls.

Barack, just be yourself. Then let the political chips fall where they may.

4 Responses to “Barack, just be yourself”

  1. christy Says:

    Agree with you enthusiastically. Obama also needs to let folks see some emotion. Cool is fine, but only up to a point. If we see how he really feels, we can relate to those feelings. That happened in VA when he said “Enough is Enough.” It also happened in 2004 when he vented his/our frustration with slice and dice politics.

  2. richl Says:

    He can get all the points across without sounding so academic if his speech writers would get a bit more creative. Such as:

    We can do it. Sex education kindergarten through university and we can do it. You and I working together, We can do it. With your help we, you and I, can revive our educate system, teaching to each that which is appropriate to their age. All of us sharing and working together We Can Do It. Eight years of disintegration is enough. We need a president that will work with the people and I’m . All of us working together, We Can Do It.

    As opposed to.

    We need better sex education in this country. When elected I will make education a priority and seek experts to help put us back at the top where we belong.

    I’m not exactly what you would call a speech writer :( but you get the idea.

  3. VettaKing Says:

    Funny. I’ve had no problem understanding Obama’s points or policies. The bottom line is Barrack has to dumb it down so the illiterate lemmings who suck up the air of America can wrap their tiny little minds around the relatively simple concepts being proposed. It’s pathetic.

  4. Larkrise Says:

    He needs to find a balance between both giving thoughtful, policy-based answers and firing up the troops. He can do both. He needs to get the young folks together again. Let their idealism become infectious. Huffpost said the pollsters are not polling the newly registered voters. I suspect that is true. They need their dose of excitement, of truth, of the bright vision. It has been a terribly long campaign. I think millions of people are sick to death of it at this point. That is why Palin has generated some excitement. She was a suprise element. The attention span in this country equals about one sound bite and a segway. It’s the Fast Food Nation, folks. Every month there is a new special on the menu.

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