Obama’s Debate Debate

It is notable that for such a skilled orator, a president of the Harvard Law Review, an inspiring speaker, Obama is a poor debater. His decision to limit his number of debates suggests his campaign is aware of it. “He may have announced his campaign in Springfield, Ill., hometown to Abraham Lincoln, whose name, along with his opponent Stephen Douglas, is synonymous with debating. But the debate is Mr. Obama’s weakest format. He is halting, hesitant, and, sometimes, even haughty,” I write.

Obama has tried to turn his neophyte status into a positive. Mr. Obama’s campaign is betting that Democratic Party voters will really respond to something new and different. “Part of the traditional game in Washington is racking up endorsements,” he said in Concord, N.H., last month. “We’ll never have the most endorsements because we haven’t been in Washington that long. We haven’t traded that many favors.”

At the same speech he invoked the same kind of rhetoric that the liberal Netroots activists believe about themselves, that they are some kind of organic movement. “Change of the sort we’re talking about is not just going to happen because I get elected,” he said. “Change is going to happen because all of you decide you’re going to embrace change. Change is going to happen not from the top-down but from the bottom up.”

I write about it in my column in The New York Sun.

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