Same job, different uniform.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama, Charisma

Piggybacking the Good Doctor's comments that Fred Thompson was too normal to run successfully for President, is my gathering concern about Barack Obama's "charisma." I'm not going to vote for the man in any race because he's too liberal (though I will give him some props on his immigration policy). And I think he's probably too liberal for most Americans. But the thing of it is, they are going to have a hard time figuring it out because of all that charisma.

I keep hearing what great charisma Obama has. Google "Obama, Charisma" and you will get and endless stream of articles, blogs and commentary. Today, because Caroline Kennedy endorsed him, I heard for the first time, comparisions to JFK - a President who is still popular today largely because of a myth perpetuated by and about charisma. He was handsome and young by Presidential standards. But he wasn't a great President. He died young and tragically. And he had all that charisma . . .

I mean, honestly - Why should it matter that the mostly non-politically active daughter of a former President (who died 45 years ago by the way!) endorses a candidate for president? Except that she is the last remaining heir to Camelot. Her uncle and cousin (Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Patrick Kennedy), members of the inner-Camelot roundtable, also endorsed Obama. Both of these men have struggled with well-publicized chemical dependancy and other things. And yet their endorsements mean something too.

It means that Americans love charisma. Charisma is a gift - like being good looking or athletic. It's not a quality you can usually acquire through hard work or sacrifice. You just get to have it if you're lucky. But in this country we treat good looks and athleticism like they are heroic deeds. People with those qualities are revered, coddled, stroked. What faults they have are easily overlooked when they make a nice turn on the red carpet in a pair of Jimmy Choo's or scramble out of the pocket under pressure and fire one into the end zone. Individuals with charisma get a similar pass in this country.

What exactly is so important about charisma? It is nice to have. It draws people in. And certainly, if you are going to be a politician, that it's a great quality. But if you have charisma without substance, what difference will it, or more specifically, YOU, make? If you have charisma without much morality (Kennedy and Clinton), how can you be trusted? Reagan had charisma and substance and morality. It was a fine, fine combination.

Incidentally, Hillary Clinton does NOT have much charisma. The woman tries. But it just doesn't come across. I doubt it ever will. I've gotten to where I almost feel sorry for her watching her struggle against this upstart young politician, as they race to snatch that first- minority-to-be-president ring. I mean her policies are less liberal than Obama's. She's got more experience than he does. But she's got that shrill voice. And not much charisma.

Obama clearly has charisma. But we don't know much about his morality or his governing skills. And he's got all those liberal policies - the thing on which we should really be basing our vote.

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Blogger Lois E. Lane said...

I would have loved to be be a fly on the wall when you ran this post past your husband :)

I agree, though. And I think my comment from the Fred Thompson post applies here.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blogger "Molly McGee" said...

When I read the title of this post, I thought it was going to be a David Letterman "Uma, Oprah" kind of thing with you introducing Barack Obama to Charisma Carpenter, the girl who played Cordelia on Buffy. Which seemed strange seeing as you've probably never seen an episode of the show in your life.

What the post was really about made more sense coming from you.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly McGee, what the heck were you talking about? As some one charismatically challenged, I know what you mean. But let's all get excited about McCain. Except for having a hard time with the truth and being as liberal as Ted Kennedy on many issues, hey, he's ok, huh? Dad Friday

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blogger Snarky said...

I hope this doesn't sound awful, but I think Joe Biden got it about right early on when he said that Obama's appeal largely derived from the fact that he is slender, handsome, has a deep voice, and is an eloquent and linguistically precise speaker. He is also black.

Mitt Romney, on the stump, is every bit as eloquent, etc, etc, but he has plastic hair, is white, and is a Republican.

It's true. I can prove it on an abacus.

I will say this, however: while Senator Obama is reliably, old-time liberal in his outlook, he appears to have a legislative sense in that he is willing to compromise to get part, or most, of what he wants.

Not a bad trait in a president, and it is one manifestly NOT shared by either Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogger Ryan Kane said...

You may be interested in this take on Obama's charisma:

Obama's Rock Star Politics: How Important is Charisma?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


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