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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 13, 2010 / 5 Tishrei, 5771

The lost communicator

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even Democrats who agree with President Obama's ideology, respect his tenacity and admire his deliberative manner have begun to whisper: Maybe he isn't a very good politician. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who is genetically incapable of whispering, puts it bluntly: "Ironically, the best communicator I ever saw in a campaign has turned out to be not so good at getting out the message as president."

It is a remarkable reversal. Obama's rise from the Illinois legislature to the presidency in four years was a real-deal, honest-to-goodness political phenomenon. I spent some time on the campaign trail with Obama during the primaries, coming away impressed by his earnestness, his touch of formality, his rhetorical ambitions -- here a little Kennedy, there a little King. He consistently met the highest objective of an orator, both capturing and shaping the public mood.

It is now difficult to remember much of what he said. Even my notes had mainly to do with his style. But his message had something to do with unity, healing and national purpose. The idiom was compelling. The agenda was, well, beside the point. This image emerged unsullied from a battle with the Clinton machine. Democrats were glad to be along for the ride on the gilded chariot of Obama's destiny.

Compare this appeal to Obama's Labor Day remarks in Milwaukee intended to kick off the midterm campaign. Obama was self-pitying: "They talk about me like a dog." Self-absorbed: "I spent some time, as I often do, with our soldiers and our veterans." Snappish: "If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say no." Pedestrian: "Their slogan is 'No we can't.' Nope, no, no, no." Humorless. Negative. And determined to drive metaphors on and on until they expire from exhaustion. The economic car in the ditch gets pulled out while someone sips a Slurpee, but it (the car, not the Slurpee) has dents and mud on it and special interests are somehow riding shotgun, and the transmission gets put in various positions, and if the other guys hits the gas pedal again, the car might go back into the ditch (unless, I suppose, it is in reverse), so we can't give them the keys because they don't know how to drive.

This criticism is a little (only a little) unfair. If unemployment were at 6 percent instead of 9.6 percent, the car metaphor would seem positively Lincolnian. Unfavorable events can make any communicator look bad.

But Obama's problem is deeper than his economic challenges. His policies as president -- particularly the creation of a health entitlement and his Rooseveltian emphasis on federal spending to create public-sector jobs -- have reopened and widened the main partisan division in American political life. Every public issue has become a harsh, entirely predictable debate about the size and role of government. Obama's initiatives, it turns out, could only be considered moderate on the skewed ideological scale of the Democratic Party. They are not only unpopular; they have made it impossible for him to maintain the pretense of being a unifying, healing, once-in-a-generation leader. It is the agenda that undermined the idiom.

With that image stripped away, Americans found Obama to be a somber, thoughtful, touchy, professorial, conventionally liberal political figure. Some like the demythologized Obama; others do not. But this profile would not be exceptional or remarkable in any town boasting a university faculty lounge. And it does not make Obama a particularly compelling party leader in a difficult midterm election. One of the best communicators I ever saw in a campaign became an ineffective messenger as president -- precisely because the appeal that made him a phenomenon is no longer credible.

So all the president's handlers try anything that might work. In Milwaukee, Obama was the feisty street fighter with a union card. But, without humor, his jabs seemed sour and mocking. In Cleveland, Obama personalized the economic argument by repeatedly attacking House Minority Leader John Boehner -- as though Americans have any idea who this tanned and sinister figure might be. The president added some detail about his grandparents' economic struggles. But few political figures look less comfortable with their heart on their sleeve. "At this point," says Rendell, "there's nothing to lose, so let it all roll." But weeks before the November election, Obama the communicator seems lost.

His challenge reaches beyond rhetoric and beyond the midterm elections: finding not only a new agenda but a new persona.


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Previously:



09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


© 2008, WPWG

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