The Eclectic Quill

July 31, 2008

Barack Star—Shining Bright

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 1:31 pm

The McCain camp wants to characterize Obama as a celebrity, whatever that means. One thing is clear though, his brilliance as a person and campaigner has his star shining bright. Just consider for a moment the basic elements of this story. An African-American, 46 year old first term Senator is generously stated, of humble background. When he announced his campaign for Presidency many thought it was premature, and few thought he’d be where he is today. He is now the Democratic nominee for President, and by most everyone’s consideration, the clear front runner to be the next President of the United States. He overcame one of the most polished and astute campaigners in recent history. He is, according to some, the "most popular person in the world". How he got here has a lot to do with who he is, and a lot has to do with a brilliant campaign.

Watching him with interviewed by Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press this week I couldn’t help but be impressed with many things but there were primarily two things that rose to the surface. First was his willingness to engage in direct conversation about the topics for which he was being interviewed. Too often when I see a candidate interviewed he retreats from the tough questions and hides behind preprogrammed automated responses that are designed that do more to avoid than answer the questions. The second thing was his ability to engage in direct conversation. As the questions were asked he was able to consistently, expertly and intelligently answer questions ranging in all areas in an interesting way. In fact his commentary was so articulate and engaging that at times Brokaw would almost slip back into his chair as though he were enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee before remembering that he was actually conducting an interview. It’s this refreshing willingness to actually talk to the nation about things that matter that has made Obama so popular among voters. In fact by a margin of two to one voters find Obama to be a more likable person.

There are some who question whether being a good talker, especially a good orator, qualifies Obama to be President. The question is disingenuous—no one argues that Obama should be President because he is a great orator. Still, let’s pause here a moment and consider a couple of things. Many consider that very thing to be the biggest strength of the late Ronald Reagan, "the Great Communicator." In fact when consider the great moments of Presidential history we often consider the great speeches that were given, ranging from "Four score and seven years ago…" to "Ask not what your country can do for you…" to "Tear down this wall!" While being a great speaker does not mean guaranteeing a great President it certainly does not follow that the two are mutually exclusive, particularly when you consider one great difference between Obama and the "Great Communicator"—Obama is communicating his own thoughts. When Obama is engaging us with his well polished rhetoric it is real, it is genuine and it is out of his own heart. That’s the difference between him and John McCain, who apparently sometimes does not even speak for his own campaign . It is refreshing to consider the notion of a President who is able to be trusted with the words that come out of his own mouth.

Beyond that though when we hear Obama speak the words which he wrote, let’s not forget these words also embody the notions which he conceived and which he also believes in. He is more than a brilliant speaker he is a brilliant person with a grasp and intuition for the world of politics which helps explain his mercurial rise. From his ability to raise funds at a record rate to his ability to gain people with passion to volunteer he’s led a charge out of the gate that has overcome a litany of negative ads from both the primary and general elections, a wrongly perceived bias pro-bias from the media, and actual anti-bias from the media. He’s done it all staying above the fray, not stooping to the level of his opponents and bringing us not just a message of change, but a real hope for change.

His brilliance is seen in his "50 state" strategy, has made states like Virginia, Colorado and Nevada "swing states" and is bringing states like the Carolinas and Georgia into play. Lately it was seen in his trip to Europe which quelled the fears of his biggest weakness. He in essence, whatever the McCain campaign suggests, proved he could stand with foreign leaders. He also reminded America of what it was like when we were world leaders, and not world hated. Whatever rhetoric conservatives would like to spin from it, 200,000 people cheering for our President is certainly preferable to thousands of people protesting him. Now Obama can come and sell his strengths, his plan for alternative energy and his superior grasp of the economic problems of the nation when the campaign season really heats up. His skillful response to the McCain attacks yesterday and today has put McCain on the defensive, rather than on the offense. In fact now even they’re reaching so deep into the dirty tricks bag that they are accusing Obama of "playing the race card." Huh, and all they did was merge the faces of two young white women with a virile black man. Why would anyone speculate that had racial overtones? As the Republican pundits desperately cry foul I find it appalling that they would be dismissive of this. Not in this country, not with our history. Don’t forget this is following the patronizing offer McCain made to "educate" Obama on foreign policy and then the accusations of him being "presumptuous" (read uppity). In what could have justifiably been a far more outraged response Obama responded with good humor and wit, saying, "Oops, he did it again." Even in his response ad he mostly just countered the attacks. All things considered Obama has been amazingly above board in not even calling off the dogs who could fight a very effective negative campaign without even having to lie to do it.

If popularity means celebrity than yes, Barack is a star. But he’s more than a rock star. He’s a glimmer of hope in an increasing dark world. His brilliance is not something to mock, but something to admire. So each time I see the outlandish McCain ad the rhetoric gets muted and I just see the crowds chanting "Obama!" "Obama!" and I’m reminded he’s a person the nation and even the world can believe in. That’s a good thing.

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