Obama, Round Three. In Defense of Charisma

December 13, 2006 by susan

by susan
Crikey, Barb beat me to the punch in responding to Lynnell, so forgive me for recapitulating some of her points. But I'm here to stand up for star power -- even though, like Barb, my first choice to be president is Al Gore. But my first choice to win the presidency is -- someone else. Not sure yet, really. But below are my caffeinated thoughts on the popularity of Obama. Read on.

Can't help myself, I like him. I think the biggest reason he's raking up all the praise is that he's smart. And we ain't seen smart in these here parts in about, oh, six years. Actually HRC wins points on this one too. (And Mr. HRC. And Al Gore.) It's so refreshing to hear whole sentences coming out of a leader's mouth that I'm mesmerized, like I once was watching smoke rings flow effortlessly from my cool older brother's mouth. Well, turned out there wasn't much substance behind those smoke rings, but I have more confidence in Obama. Besides, oratory skill, brains and charisma (sorry) go a long way towards ability to lead, and we really do desperately need a "uniter not a divider" right now. Little bubbles pop merrily in my head when I think of the appointments Obama might make.
And, arguably, being long on substance but short on the heady stuff was Al Gore's undoing. In fact, there's a litany of brainy substance-filled Democrats who have been pummeled at the polls, at least in my lifetime, starting with Adlai Stevenson. Americans seem to like their leadership lite. Bill Clinton had the rare ability to tamp down his brainy side with bad habits, from donuts to Monica. I think that his known sexual and dietary naughtiness actually appealed to something in many of us, but that's for another time.
So I hear you, Lynnell, there's something about Obama's astonishing rise to top dog that's worrisome. But I think that's more the fault of our celebrity culture -- as well as our desperate desire for a new chapter -- than the fault of the man. We'll see. Or maybe not.
As a child of the Sixties, I have that sinking feeling that something terrible is going to happen to any leader on my side who combines brain and, yes, charisma. From JFK to Paul Wellstone, we've been traumatized by murder and tragic loss. Is it any wonder we're wary '" for any reason -- of hitching our wagon to this star?

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Comments

Barbara Miller (not verified) | December 13, 2006 - 1:25pm

I can't get past the feeling that this is not the right time for a rookie. And this is an amazing position for one who is so very tired of the good ol' boys and girls' way of doing things. But something in my own old bones says that Gore is the right person at the right time, finally.

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Susan bw (not verified) | December 13, 2006 - 10:27pm

Did anyone see the Sunday am "Meet the Press" segment a few weeks ago about Obamamania? Seasoned reporters were telling Barack to pipe down and wait his turn. The The Washington Post guy summed up this "timing is everything" discussion with a practical truth, I think, saying that you're not dealt "a hot hand" more than once, and Barack has the hot hand now and has to play it.

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Barbara Miller (not verified) | December 13, 2006 - 11:39pm

I totally agree. And so I think he'd make a superb VP candidate!

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Ann Jennett (not verified) | December 15, 2006 - 2:06am

Something to add to the plus side for Obama is the fact that he appears to have the same great appeal abroad that he is enjoying in the US. If there ever was a time when we need to elect a leader who garners respect in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, this is it!
And I feel I must mention race: African American youth, especially young males, are suffering from various obstacles in the way of success - and for many, hopelessness prevails. To see that Americans could elect a Black male could only be uplifting. It could also help erase the African American tendency, a natural but crippling one, I believe, to blame lack of success on White racism.
There are many reasons to support Obama in addition to charisma.

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