I wonder when it became a character flaw to have poise. I wonder why Barack Obama’s knowledge of pop culture (the fist bump or brushing the dirt off his shoulder, for example), good looks, and commanding presence on stage are somehow reasons to believe he’s all flash and no substance. Just because our current president fumbles and stumbles through interviews and fails to inspire a nation with his rhetoric doesn’t mean all candidates should be as inept. If anything, Bush’s approval rating should make traits just the opposite desirable.
But, the right wing has dubbed Obama as lacking in skill. Just a pretty face with a bunch of empty words. Somehow, his interpersonal skills and amiable personality have been distorted to mean he’s a better rock star than a politician. OK, I’ll admit calling him a Barack Star is a clever play on words, but why does it have to be a bad thing? Oh no, he inspires thousands of young people to vote for the first time. Oh no, he raises more money from average private citizens than lobbyists and party heavy weights. For shame! How dare he, a stylish well-spoken man, enter politics and run for president.
The same right-wingers who like to call Obama names conveniently neglect to mention that he was the president of the Harvard Law Review, has published two best-selling books, and served on both the state and national legislature. He’s actually served more years as an elected official (twelve) than Hillary Clinton (eight). But as Obama has said on a number of occasions, experience alone doesn’t create sound judgment. Clearly, Bush’s experience as the governor of Texas for six years didn’t translate into effective leadership. However, Obama has proven his good judgment through his record. In the U.S. Senate, he opposed the war in Iraq from the start, even when it was overwhelmingly popular. He has also served on a number of committees, found here. Then there are his eight years as a state senator. I love when people discount this role, as if they know the first thing about it. In the state legislature, he worked on bipartisan bills to create Earned Income Tax Credits to assist needy families, providing more than $100 million in tax cuts over three years. He also fought for a better criminal justice system through reforms that required videotaped confessions and interrogations in capital cases. This is just a sampling of his record, which includes loads of passed bills.
I guess I can’t blame staunch conservatives for blasting Barack for his suave style. After all, they’re trying to find a way to make John McCain presidential. What better tactic than to paint the skilled, smooth rival as “too flashy” while ignoring his lengthy record in public service. McCain’s ineptitude as a public speaker is not inversely proportionate to his ability to lead the country. It’s laughable that the GOP considers the use of teleprompter a more authentic style than Obama’s candid speeches. While the right wing likes to couch their arguments against Obama as issue-oriented, they rarely mention them. Opting instead to pick apart his wardrobe (which is frequently lacking in American flag pins), and charismatic speaking style. I’m voting for Obama because of his stance on the war, plan for universal healthcare, work on death penalty reforms, emphasis on early education, and commitment to cleaning up Washington. I’m not going to lie though, his basketball skills and sense of comedic timing are a plus.