Not a Master Debater

CNN quotes Barack Obama as saying he doesn't see any point in having another debate with Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Clinton. That's not surprising, considering the widely-panned performance he gave Wednesday night. Obama also said this about the debate:
"Last night, we set a new record, because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking -- until we started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people," he said.
He was referring to the questions about his former pastor, his ties to that former terrorist, his comments about Pennsylvanians clinging to God, guns, etc., as well as Hillary's Bosnia sniper-fire story. We often hear politicians complain when this kind of stuff comes up in a campaign, and say that we should focus on "the issues."

The thing is, people care about character and likability. Some voters care about that more than specific policy positions. Someone like myself who pays a lot of attention to, and votes based upon, issues and philosophy may not understand the way less-engaged swing voters make their choice, but there are probably more of them than there are of me. These voters want to relate to a candidate (and I can't really blame them for not wanting to invest themselves in paying attention to Washington). Their failure to connect with voters, and appear authentic, is in part what caused Bush 41, Al Gore, and John Kerry to lose their respective presidential races (or re-election, in Bush's case). This is the image that Obama seems to be drifting towards, that of the out-of-touch elitist. So, while it may sound good to call for focus on the issues, voters will continue to focus on personality and character. This may not be good for Obama.


  1. I heard that comment on the news and thought it was ridiculous of him. Things like this are important and do matter and he is KIDDING himself if he thinks otherwise. (Same with the whole flag/pledge thing. He seems to do that a lot.)

  2. Yeah, if there's one thing that Obama doesn't have, it's charisma.