Thursday, July 05, 2007

Can He Unleash the Force?

Unlike Dowd's earlier comments about Obama, which could be dismissed as her usual snarkiness, I think she makes some very fair points on this Op Ed. I think she actually likes Obama and is trying to give him some advice, which I think he'd be well served to consider:

When he wants to, Mr. Obama can rouse the crowd to multiple ovations, as he did yesterday when he talked with a preacher’s passion about the “quiet riot” of frustration of blacks in this country, on issues like Katrina, in a speech before black clergy at Hampton University in Virginia.

But often he reverts to Obambi, tentative about commanding the stage and consistently channeling the excitement he engenders. At times, he seems to be actively resisting his phenom status and easy appeals to emotion. When he should fire up, he dampens. When he should dominate, he’s deferential. When he should lacerate, he’s languid.

Futilely, he chafes at the notion that debates and forums are rituals for showing a sense of command with a forceful one-liner, a witty takedown or a “shining city on a hill” moment. He keeps trying to treat them as places where he can riff, improvise, soothe, extrapolate or find common ground. He skitters away from the subtext of political contests, the need to use your force to slay your opponents.

In the first two Democratic debates and Monday night’s forum on faith, Hillary Clinton commanded the stage, just like a great squash player dominates the T...

In the New Hampshire debate Sunday night, Mr. Obama again missed his chances. Hillary is the one he needs to unseat, but he treads gingerly around her.

June 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Can He Unleash the Force?

In mythic tales from “Superman” to “Star Wars” to “Spider-Man,” there comes a moment when the young superhero has to learn to harness his powers. That’s the challenge Barack Obama faces now.


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