Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama's Poetry And Prose

I agree with Robert Schlesinger that Obama critics' fixation with his use of a TelePrompTer well get them nowhere. The President has two modes of discourse about public policy, each a boon. He can raise the rafters with set pieces written by Jon Favreau and his other speechwriters. Without a text, as during last night's Q&A with reporters, he's slow, sometimes halting, but never inarticulate. He reveals the wonk within by weighing each word, sweating the nuances, and leaving an impression of carefulness and discernment in frantic times. President Nixon might have said that Obama combines poetry and prose in the same package. What's missing is the obsessive importuning of his all-too-articulate Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton. Obama doesn't seem to care so much if you like him, but he does want you to pay attention.

It's obvious most Americans still find it impressive. While critics read their denunciations of his TelePrompTer dependence off theirs, he gets high marks for coolness and steadiness. Republicans won't win by attacking his competence and temperament. Instead, they'd better try to remember how to win an argument about ideas and policies.

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