First I’d like someone to explain to me why Barack Obama’s head was at an angle the entire time he was answering questions from Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church event this past Saturday. Surely some body language expert has or will explain the significance of it. My guess is the tilted head means that the person lacks confidence in his mastery of the material he’s about to be tested on.
Second, I’d really like to hear a more honest appraisal of Obama’s facial expressions that cry insecurity and fear. Victor Davis Hanson referred to Obama’s “deer in the headlights” look. I’d be concerned if I saw that frightened expression on a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The idea that a major party candidate for president betrays such weakness is extremely troubling.
Obama supporters say he’s “cool.” He might possess a certain “cool” demeanor at times, but it never lasts and he never exudes strength when he’s acting cool.
Obama supporters also say he’s “thoughtful.” Obama has to be thoughtful, since his mind has to race to find an answer to questions he can’t speak frankly about nor address from experience. It’s easy to imagine his mind searching out his database of information:
- What can I say that won’t show how extremely liberal I am?
- What did my handlers tell me I should say?
- How can I appear to agree with everybody on this issue?
Obama supporters say he’s “nuanced” in his answers. Please. Try “equivocation” and “attempting to have it both ways.” Some might even call it vague. Brevity is the soul of wit and a long answer can often mean the speaker wants you to be fooled.
Obama supporters say his answers were “balanced” and “pragmatic.” My guess is that Obama wished he could just say he was on both sides of a controversial issue so no one would be offended—that certainly would be politically pragmatic. He’s pro-choice and anti-abortion. He defines marriage as between one man and one woman, but he’s against protecting it.
I’ve had a number of people comment to me that they can’t stand watching Obama talk. Obama is still a candidate but many people are reacting to him like they did to Bill Clinton after he was president for several years. It’s never easy to see someone talk who is pretending to hide his own lack of knowledge and inexperience, and it can be painful to watch someone talk who is not ready to tell the truth.
In a way Obama is a lucky man because his performance was so lousy he now has time to recover and get ready to do better for the three big debates coming up this fall. It’s debatable, of course, whether he will be able to improve.
To speak with genuine confidence you have to be able to speak honestly. Obama has to hide his extreme liberal views. To speak with genuine authority, you have to have solid life experience that has produced inside you a solid foundation. As I wrote in March 2007, Obama’s inner geography is his biggest liability.
What’s even worse for Obama on this latter point—John McCain’s life experience by comparison is enormous. Byron York in the National Review wrote this:
“John McCain has lived a much bigger life than Barack Obama. That’s not a slam at Obama; McCain has lived a much bigger life than most people. But it still made Obama look small in comparison.”
McCain is 72 years old and Obama is 47, but even when Obama is 72 it’s doubtful he will have experienced anything like McCain’s five and a half years as a prisoner of war.
The old line about athletes that “you can’t put in what God left out” could be used for judging would-be political leaders: “you can’t put in what inexperience left out.” Obama isn’t ready to be President of the United States, and you can see it in his face.
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There were many apt comments made in the past couple of days about the Saddleback Church event. Here are a few:
John Podhoretz, Commentary:
“I don’t know how to say this more clearly: If John McCain can perform during the three debates the way he is performing tonight with Rick Warren, he will win this election. The contrast between him and Barack Obama (who answered the same questions an hour before him) has really been quite startling. In every case, McCain has answered substantively, directly, and with a surpassing command of detail. Obama talked around most issues…”
Byron York, National Review:
“To further press the case on abortion, McCain had brought along New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, one of the most forceful pro-life voices in Congress. After the forum, I asked Smith whether Obama had helped himself at all with pro-lifers. Just the opposite, Smith said. ‘I thought Sen. Obama’s statement in quoting Matthew 25, which is my favorite scripture since I was in high school—Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do likewise to me – when as a matter of record he voted against [a ban on partial-birth abortion ]…well, I find it discouraging and disingenuous for him to talk about the least of our brethren.'”
Mark Hemingway, McCain As Good As Obama Was Bad:
“I don’t want to get to overheated about what occurred tonight, but I do think McCain had a clear and decisive victory over Obama. It all comes down to something that Phil Bredesen, the Democratic governor of Tennessee recently said about Obama: ‘Instead of giving big speeches at big stadiums, he needs to give straight-up 10-word answers to people at Wal-Mart about how he would improve their lives.’
By that standard, McCain did extremely well and Obama did very poorly. McCain’s answers were direct, confident and, most importantly, serious. …
[Obama,] after completely hedging on the question and declining to give a specific answer—he wants to speak ‘more generally’ about the issue? And, lo and behold, speak more generally he does: ‘I’m absolutely convinced that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue.’ In related news, Obama is also ‘absolutely convinced’ that the sky is blue, water is wet and puppies are adorable. None of this, however, tells me a thing about his judgment and moral worldview.”