Warriors live by the sword and die by the sword. Politicians live by the speech. And they die by the speech.
The most shocking thing about President Obama’s political implosion from bright supernova to deadened black hole has been the complete undoing of his ability to speak.
Remember when he was famous for speaking? Voters by the tens of thousands would gather for hours in the rain to hear him speak.
More than 80,000 people streamed into the Denver Broncos arena to hear Mr. Obama deliver his nomination-acceptance speech. Standing on the tippy-top of Mile High Stadium, you could see lines of people snaking in from miles away. It looked like something from Roman times.
And he did not disappoint.
Liberals literally swooned at his voice. Independents wept at the visions he unfurled, the barriers he crushed into ancient rubble. Even many Republicans could not help but get caught up in Obamamania.
Today, it is hard even to remember that magic.
Gaunt and gray, he looks like he needs a cigarette. Real bad.
Gone is the soaring rhetoric and promising tone. Absent is that special credibility he once held with voters who saw him as an adult promising to bring some common sense to Washington.
That winning audacity has been replaced by stiff irritability. Hopeful visions have given way to scolding lectures.
Watching him speak now is like watching Meat Loaf crash around onstage, all fat and sweaty, crooning his old love songs and trying to catch a spark — only to faint onstage, be revived by medics and insist on finishing his show.
It is desperation defined.
Even if you don’t particularly like Mr. Obama and disagree with just about everything he says, you can’t help but cringe for him as he stumbles about, missing all his notes, pausing in midair, staring into the lights, confused by the teleprompter.
After hiding out for a weekend of economic and military turmoil, Mr. Obama faced the cameras Monday for one of his saddest performances.