- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This is not a happy time for a president that seemed so unflappable during his campaign. Gone are the swooning crowds and the rosy-eyed view of great hope against the machine. The Democrats, in fact, are desperate to find a suitable nemesis that their leader, President Obama, can hook into with his famous wit and formidable public oratory.

Like many populist leaders, the image of Mr. Obama is paramount to his success, especially in an increasingly partisan economic battle. He needs to deliver on his great promise and beautiful words. Indeed, it is apparent that the media generally understands this principle and is extending to Mr. Obama certain courtesies of not reporting his gaffes and blunders in a way comparable to George W. Bush, who was often mocked from morning to night on the airwaves for mispronouncing “nuclear” or stumbling over his words.

Whenever such an attempt is made against Mr. Obama, the blogs go wild in his defense. Vengeance-seeking Republicans are often likened to children in the schoolyard trying to spring a “gotcha,” or the defense of the gaffes is simply called silly. Like Mr. Obama says, we should cast aside the bickering and try to move forward together, like concerned adults.

However, as citizens, journalists, historians and taxpayers, don’t we owe something more to history? Shouldn’t we take a closer look at just how a society can be moved to great change?

In this day of 10-second sound bites and quick streaming headlines, just how much of our trust is built on editing? How many of Mr. Obama’s voters might likely change their minds if they were to hear a raw press conference with its expected gurgles, coughs, interruptions and free-flow speaking?

Mr. Obama is certainly aware of this danger. That is why he is never too far from a teleprompter. For in the end, his ability to govern is based on political power, not just political authority, and true power in America, regrettably, comes from opinion polls and late-night jokes.

JACKSON PARR

Rearden Institute of Government

Philadelphia

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