We’re all somehow disappointed in Barack. He’s not liberal enough. He’s too liberal. He hasn’t done anything about gun control. He is a stealth gun control freak. He doesn’t speak to the press enough. He has some spin-oriented thing to say about every issue and event minutes after it comes up. He needs to stick to principles; he needs to be willing to compromise.
Since he lost the style points in the last debate, it is an opportunity for everyone to wish he morphed into the president of their dreams and aspirations. Yes, that’s what people do with their leaders of course. Debates are supposed to be conduits of less filtered information and policy stance. I must say, though, it was not unvarnished facts. Both candidates had their refined campaign messages ready to present to the few undecided voters remaining. It happened that Romney found a persona that came across well and clearly caught Obama off guard. So his message floundered. He missed his chances to refute new guy, leaving that work to the press. And they have done that well. The pundit class has effectively re-worked Obama’s image enough to keep the horserace a horserace.
So Obama wasn’t himself at the debate. He has not held so many solo press conferences in his first term. The Democratic base and that press that is allied with it have decried and re-aligned Obama every time they think he needs it. We often see Obama remain reticent on issues until pressure forces him to come forth. Come to think of it, is the public image of Barack Obama something separate from the real guy?
No wonder many people are disappointed in the guy. Last campaign, he was so effective at seeming to be the person they longed for, as a leader and human. I believe this split personality is both a critical issue and important opportunity for the incumbent. Of course he needs to say things that appeal to voters, and a certain amount of diplomacy and vagueness must accompany that effort. However, the entire country – left and right, fans, skeptics and foes – deserve to discover who the real president is. That is a two-way effort. We need to listen carefully without projecting. That is a matter of comparing our own views with his. And he needs to present them.