Barack Obama has a dual
personality. In the three debates with his opponent, Senator
John McCain, Obama came off as professorial and detached. In a rally,
like the one in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Obama was easy and warm,
and cracking jokes – occasionally straying from the prepared text to
interact with his audience. So I have to wonder – why isn’t this the
Barack Obama of the debates?
Contrary to what pundits and
polls say, I didn’t think that Barack Obama won any of the
debates. The first one was a draw, the second one a draw (mostly
due to John McCain’s 21 “my friends” and Raptor-like lurking), and in
the last debate, John McCain gave the strongest and most forceful
performance (even if the constant blinking was distracting). Obama’s
strongest moments in the debate were the times when he would look
directly at camera and address the audience at home. That’s when
Rally Obama comes out.
Senator Obama, like any good orator,
feeds off the energy of the crowd. The turnout and enthusiasm
proved that the group gathered in Londonderry had clearly chosen their
candidate. The crowd loved Obama. And he loved them back.
There was a call-response interaction going on that I hadn’t seen at
previous Obama rallies.
The most memorable example
of this interaction was when the Senator started speaking about Joe
The Plumber – the everyman brought up in the debate – “I don’t know
any plumbers that make half a million dollars,” he began before
touting his tax plan for the middle class. “Let me be clear
now,” and then, he stopped mid-sentence, and started taking a
different angle, “Let me see a show of hands,” he asked the crowd to
raise their hands if they made half a million dollars, only two people
raised their hands. Then he asked how many people made under
$200,000 a year, and almost everyone raised his or her hands.
Not only was it an example of how Obama has an ease with crowds of his
supporters, but also a jarring example of the idea that if he can
speak to this group of people, and interact easily with them, he could
be a very powerful president.
As of this writing, there are
only 15 days left until the election. There haven’t been any
October Surprises. If things continue going the same way,
there’s no reason the Senator should lose. But like Obama said
himself, it’s not time to get cocky. After all, he was ahead in the
polls in New Hampshire during the primaries, before losing to Senator
Photo Credit: Valeria Villarroel Espinoza, WEBN News.