And voila, Charlotte:
I beg to differ on some points, though, B.O.: it wasn't just "a few days after Katrina" that we saw terrible negligence. Another: that the storm was something that "President Cowen was able to...work through" [read: able to exploit]. I think that the American Association of University Professors would agree on that one.
But I've truly never seen a more gifted orator running for any public office and certainly not for president. I'm always struck by the fact that even though Barack Obama returns to similar themes, his speeches are unique, stylistically impressive, and inspring to audiences. That is an amazing feat for someone who is speaking somewhere almost hourly. And despite that his speeches are intricately focused on a particular occasion, I never see him look at notes, and there is no teleprompter in the stump speeches. There's no way to do that without intense personal involvement in and conviction about the policies and ideas he is setting forth.
I've seen him twice in the past year, both times in Austin, and both times outside in the pelting rain, first speaking to a group of up to 20,000 and second to a group of 3500 (max capacity for the venue). People waited patiently through the rain for hours, and it's hard to feel "inspired" in the rain, but inspired the audiences were when he spoke.
His performances are a far stretch from what I saw of Al Gore in 2000. As much as I respect Al Gore for everything he has done, I was deeply troubled when I saw him speak at the River Walk. His speech ran about 10 minutes, and there were a few very superficial references to this city (The Big Easy, etc), but what followed was so staged that it truly resembled a music video...the same one I'd seen over and over. He seemed disconnected from the crowd. The catch phrases were hard to swallow: "accountability for teachers" (a concept I've always found revolting in its implicit accusation), "a strengthened Medicare system," blah blah.
The intellect and focus and connectedness we see in Obama are quite rare.
And: "To Barack Obama: New Orleans' Mental Health Crisis #2" rxfogarty