Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ego as an Issue

The Boston Globe article The Audacity of Ego addresses a growing concern about the ego of Senator Obama.
Barack Obama always was a larger-than-life candidate with a healthy ego. Now he's turning into the A-Rod of politics. It's all about him.

He's giving his opponent something other than issues to attack him on: narcissism.

A convention hall isn't good enough for the presumptive Democratic nominee. He plans to deliver his acceptance speech in the 75,000 seat stadium where the Denver Broncos play. Before a vote is cast, he's embarking on a foreign policy tour that will use cheering Europeans - and America's top news anchors - as extras in his campaign. What do you expect from a candidate who already auditioned a quasi-presidential seal with the Latin inscription, "Vero possumus" - "Yes, we can"?

Obama finds criticism of his wife "infuriating" and doesn't want either of them to be the target of satire. Tell that to the Carters, the Reagans, the Clintons, and the Bushes, father and son.

There's no such thing as a humble politician. But when Obama looks into the mirror, he doesn't just see a president; he sees JFK.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy accepted his party's nomination with an outdoor speech at the Los Angeles Coliseum. But he waited until he was elected before going to Germany to declare "Ich bin ein Berliner."
Ego problems aren't just a matter of annoyance they speak to what type of leader a person will be. There is a stark contrast between the two candidates in this area, both in form and substance. Senator McCain is a 'town hall' candidate. He talks to people, he listens to their questions and concerns, and he answers those questions to the best of his ability. It's not that uncommon for him to be interupted by a protestor, or seriously criticized by an attendee. Yet he gives respect to people with opposing view points, and delights in the give and take of this environment.

Conversely, Sentor Obama is a speaker, and a good one. Much of his success is based on his ability to excite a crowd with soaring rhetoric. Certainly can't fault him for having this skill, but the problem is that this isn't an adequate substitute for substance. No critics are allowed anywhere near Senator Obama only adoring fans. There is no attempt to answer questions, he is content in revelling in these grandiose stage events. Large crowds and adoring fan are fine for a rock concert, but not always appropriate for politics.

Certainly no successful politician is short of confidence or ego, but Senator McCain's self-effacing humor and personal connection to the voters is starkly different than Senator Obama's stage show. Humor may seem like the last thing relevant to presidential qualifications, but the inability to take a joke or to accept criticism is a problem, particularly for a young and inexperienced candidate. Ego and politics have historically been a very dangerous combination. Yet big ego's play better on camera, leaving voters with the question of whether they want to elect the Elvis of politics, or chose a less superficial and highly qualified candiate.

Exibit A...
Movie Trailor for Hype - the Obama Effect

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