Obama's thrill is gone

Like Jeff Emanuel, I was shocked by President Obama’s “sub-prime” performance in his first prime time press conference.

Obama wasn’t the laid-back, inspirational orator for which he was dubbed the One. No, last night, Obama came across as angry and arrogant. His campaign of hope for change has somehow morphed into a governance of doom and gloom.

Jeff and I are not alone in perceiving Obama’s performance as wanting.

As Baltimore Sun critic, David Zurawik, put it “the thrill is gone”:

As opposed to the easy-going, relaxed rhythm of his speeches during the campaign, as well as the news conferences he held as president-elect, he was rushing his words — talking at a speed that seemed about one-third faster than he normally speaks.

It was almost as if he had too much adrenaline — or his mouth could not keep up with his mind. Whatever the reason, he stumbled over a few words, and lost the power of that measured, colloquial rhythm he used during the campaign and just after the election to make it sound as if he was talking directly and personally to each and every viewer out in TV Land.

Zurawik goes on to conclude:

In the end, maybe the worst result of him not being on the top of his rhetorical game is that he was never able to redeem his malaise-drenched message of what a crisis he inherited with any vision of better days ahead — no matter how far down the road they might be.

Near the end of the session, he called himself an “eternal optimist” and expressed his faith that we will “solve these problems.” But he didn’t have his TV game together enough to make us believe.

Obama’s poor performance was even noted in the New York Times, where Alessandra Stanley found similarity between Obama’s news conference and the first one held by President George W. Bush, in 2001. She panned Obama’s performance for its “professorial disquisitions” and “technocratic tropes.”

Perhaps it was a withdrawal symptom of no longer being on the campaign
trail, with a fawning media cheering every word. Or, perhaps it was a
recognition that he can’t utter the command “make it so” and remake the
world as he would desire it. Maybe it was being beat up for nominating a bunch of tax cheats to help run the Obama administration. Or maybe it was all criticism about Obama’s bloated bailout boondoggle, which, with all the non-stimulus-related spending, will cost at least $200,000 for each job it produces.

Whatever the reason for the Obama failure, I was hoping for much more of Obama’s rhetoric of hope with maybe some of President Reagan’s optimism and much less of Obama’s new Carter-like malaise.