Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Political Importance of Being Open and Personable


In a recent column, Garrison Keillor writes about taking his young daughter to a children's playground and sitting next to a woman who was watching her own child play. Soon, the woman got up and walked away to check more closely on her child but then turned around and hastily came back to retrieve her purse, as though she were afraid that Keillor might steal it if she didn't.

Keillor confesses that, at first, he felt offended by this woman's actions. But then he thought about it and realized that, as a writer who tends to position himself at the social periphery and silently observe others rather than involve himself in friendly interaction with them, it was only natural that people would distrust this aloof and taciturn stranger in their midst.

Keillor contrasts himself with former Navy SEAL, professional wrestler, and governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura and with Barack Obama. Love or hate Ventura's opinions, people admire his willingness to put himself out there and unequivocally say what he means and mean what he says. People like and trust those who can do this. And this is a big part of Obama's appeal as well. Obama embodies the best of both worlds--detached observation able to astutely take in the whole picture and the ability to engage with any person or group by listening carefully and by saying what's on his gifted mind and in his warm, caring, and compassionate heart.

I think that Keillor may be right about this, and, if he is, I think this may give Obama a bigger edge over McCain than the polls currently show. McCain seems much more guarded, remote, and cantankerous as a person, and I suspect that this contrast will become even more evident when we start seeing Obama and McCain together in "town hall" meetings and "debates."

I'm not necessarily saying that we should choose our presidents according to how forthcoming and personable they seem to be; I'm just suggesting that we shouldn't underestimate the importance of this factor for the voting public.

7 comments:

Freiedrich said...

I find it hard to believe that anyone finds Obama -- much less Jesse Ventura -- "intelligent" or admirable. The former is a cipher while the latter is an ignoramus. After all, Omama has done nothing in his life aside from being a community agitator and now professional politician who goes back on his lies as soon as he utters them. I will give him that.

And since you do not believe in free will, you should spend a little time thinking about the disastrous system of incentives that the left wishes to enshrine, ensuring the downward plunge of mankind.

Nagarjuna said...

What "disastrous system of incentives" does Obama wish to "enshrine"?

friedrich said...

It is illustrative that you have such unwavering support for a man of whose polices -- and the implications thereof -- you are utterly ignorant. Such is the modern liberal.

Mary Lois said...

If it counts for anything, Steve, I too find the two men you mention intelligent and admirable. Nothing that your commenter writes convinces me that he is either.

Nagarjuna said...

Freiedrich--
Would you be so kind as to help this modern liberal to overcome his abject ignorance by your answering the question I put to you in my previous comment and by explaining WHY those "incentives" would be "disastrous"?

Nagarjuna said...

Mary Lois--
I would like to believe that there's more to the commenter than meets the eye in his brief comments here.

However, it WOULD be interesting to read Freiedrich's explanation of how a man who served his country honorably as a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam war and later served as a state governor is nothing but a "cipher," and how a man who graduated near the top of his class at Harvard Law school and edited its Law Review and then went on to become a United States Senator is a mere "ignoramus" who has "done nothing in his life."

shirley said...

Do you have a link to something confirmable showing exactly where Barack Obama graduated near the top of his class at Harvard law School? Then would be an interesting piece of information instead of a interesting rumor spread over the internet.