America Wants an Unscripted Obama

Obama Attracts More Supporters Than Opponents at Maine Event
Maine Public Broadcasting Network   Reported By: Josie Huang

President Obama used his first trip to Maine since he took office to tout the benefits of the newly-enacted health care overhaul. His talk of expanding affordable health coverage was embraced inside the Portland Expo, but outside, protesters accused him of leading a government takeover of health care and individual rights.

The president’s visit took on the feel of a campaign event, with many ardent supporters of his filling the Expo, after waiting hours for tickets the day before.

They listened as the president took aim at Republicans and pundits who criticize the law.
“Every single day since I signed reform law, there’s been another poll or headline that says, ‘Nation still divided on health care reform. Polls haven’t changed yet. Well, yeah. It’s just happened last week!”

. . . He said by 2014, small businesses and the uninsured will be able to purchase affordable coverage through a health insurance exchange. Some buyers will qualify for tax credits.

“Now, this what everybody’s been hollering about as the end of freedom, and now that it’s passed, they’re already promising, ‘We’re going to repeal it.’?They’re going to run on a platform of repeal in November.?And, my attitude is, go for it,” the president said.

President Obama’s background and speaking skills make him the most skilled ‘communicator’ since Ronald Reagan.

Yet, unlike Reagan, who was an actor, rather than an educator and a lawyer, Obama has thus far failed to project the homeyness with which Reagan captured America’s attention and, some would say, their hearts.

We forgave Reagan his rhetorical bumps of the head, as he covered a lack of depth and occasional lapses of syntax with that famous grin and a charming sense of self-deprecation. By comparison, Obama makes no such mistakes, with a razor sharp and instant recall of detail not seen since Bill Clinton.

Yet, he’s thus far largely failed to use this most formidable weapon–throwing away the teleprompters and leaving his speech writers behind to connect more intimately with his audience. He’s at his best in that format.

Compare his State of the Union speech or Nobel Peace Prize acceptance with his appearance before the Republican caucus, where he took on political opponents for a four-hour live, televised, unscripted defense of his policies. That’s his strength. That’s where he’s most comfortable and effective. That’s where America respects and admires him.

Obama’s weekly video address to the nation, a kind of video edition of the FDR Fireside Chat, is scripted–and flat, because of the speechifying.

Toss it out, Mr. President, except for the most formal occasions.

We love you best in conversation.

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