President Obama is widely regarded as a gifted orator. Actually being President, however, is a very different task from running for President–something that the inexperienced Obama seemingly hasn’t figured out. As a small-time local politician, as a Senator and even as a Presidential candidate, it is possible to speak carelessly and get away with it. Glibness is rewarded; not much else matters.
A President, however, must choose his words carefully, because they actually matter. As I’ve noted before, President Bush chose his words with great care, even when doing so made him seem halting in his delivery. As a result, he made fewer verbal mistakes–I’m talking about substance here, not minor stumbles–than any politician in memory.
Obama, in contrast, continues to overestimate his verbal skills. All his life, he has been rewarded for assuming a certain pose and offering up platitudes in a reasonably glib fashion. These are minor talents at best, but they got Obama elected President, notwithstanding his lack of original insight into any issue of public policy. Now that he is President, however, these limitations are starting to haunt him. Obama’s foolish and entirely needless assertion that Cambridge policeman James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Gates is beginning to turn into a political issue that will hurt Obama with broad sectors of the electorate. Here he is, issuing his denunciation of Officer Crowley:
This is one more in a series of self-inflicted wounds that have contributed to Obama’s steadily declining standing with Americans.
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