Kirk Watson made me think.
In the wake of his big goof on TV, being a big supporter who couldn’t rattle off Obama’s Legislative achievements for Chris Matthews, I was really prompted to think. I saw the great backlash on this site about how Obama supporters need to memorize the list of legislation and achievements, to be able to whip out at a moment’s notice, and I liked that. It is really a great thing to know the detail of your candidate’s record, and understand it.
But someone out there made me realize that the record isn’t the only important part of the candidate.
That person is George W. Bush.
I love wonks. Wonkiness rules. I liked Gore, I liked Kerry, and I liked Hillary too. (and two of those people even won the presidency!)
They all give great policy speeches with detail, facts, and show a true understanding for what they are talking about. All of them look smart as hell on stage. Period. And all of them have great, big records to run on.
So then why do I look to Curious Gorge, the child president, for insight? Because he had none of that to run with. He’s not smart, doesn’t read, and looks the fool. He has a lousy record to run on, at best. But to the average joe, he had two things going, Passion and Inspiration.
(As we all know, Bush wasn’t actually inspired by anything, and personally, I think he fakes his passion on everything, except perhaps money, and riding his bike.)
But the point was he had literally nothing to run on, except those things, and he beat us soundly. Up until 2004, Most folks felt they could trust Bush, and he was listened to by a majority of people. This was a powerful gift, it got him elected.
Fast Forward to today. Both our candidates have experience. Both are talented legislators, both are very smart. But only one is presenting us with the passion and trustworthiness that I feel is needed to get people interested in the first place. Once people are listening, then they will be much more receptive to ideas.
Hillary showed some of this passion when she broke down before new Hampshire, and it opened her up to people (much to my own surprise). But she didn’t seem to take her own lesson to heart.
It is the inspirational effects of Obama that are really impressing me, more than the wonk, more than anything else at this point.
Now this doesn’t mean that you should throw your support behind any charismatic candidate, some candidate that talks a good talk but is totally disinterested in doing the actual job, and just sees this as some sort of personal trip, for their benefit alone. A candidate like that would be just like, say, George W. Bush.
But the skills that make a candidate able to go up, and persuade a crowd are valuable. Inspiration isn’t just an election tactic, but a skill that can translate into bringing forth compromise and diplomacy. Passion, guided with actual wisdom for a change, can be an agent of transformation.
This is why I think it was easy for Kirk Watson to look the fool, because he may not have been thinking past the intangibles (but I bet he is now!)
These ethereal qualities Obama really are important, and while not more important than his record, makes him a much more formidable candidate for the election, and I feel would make him a better President overall.
So, thanks Kirk!