Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama and the Common Touch

Bill's Clinton's intellect is no less imposing than Barack Obama's, and his resume is equally impressive -- Yale and Oxford. But Bill has the common touch. He can identify with ordinary people so that his elite intellectual status does not raise a barrier. Now being from Arkansas and named Bill Clinton does not hurt. But his manner and approach and way of speaking help even more. Y'all understand that, don't you?

So far Barack has not been so successful. An exotic name like Barack Hussein Obama is already a question mark. When he is not making a speech but communing with the folks and answering questions, he sounds too much like the professor he was. Carefully chosen words uttered slowly and the inability to simplify things without your getting the idea he is all too aware of the complexities, ambiguities, and nuances give the impression that he is so cool, controlled, and in charge of his thought that he cannot utter the simple simplicities with passion.

He needs a little more of the warm-hearted preacher and less of the deep-thinking professor -- a little more fire and brimstone, outrage, and feeling that convey sincerity without appearing that he is acting and calmly calculating and not speaking from the heart.

Can he do it? I hope he can. It probably is not something Bill can teach him. You sort of have to have it as part of your real self. If he cannot connect with the folks on the streets, in the factories, in the bars, at prayer meetings, those who do the hard work and get sweaty, he may have to sit with Dukakis and Kerry at a sidewalk cafe drinking fine wine and reflect on why the working-class white folks didn't believe that they--these sophisticates -- really felt their pain.

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