The New York Times’ Matt Bai thinks President Obama needs to connect more directly with voters than he has, though he doesn’t expect him to tweet.
Perhaps, though, the president’s team is over-thinking the challenge, putting too much emphasis on how to use the trendiest applications or on how to interact with voters, when what really matters is creating an authentic narrative. One of the most pervasive activities on the Internet, after all, is the basic conveyance of personal experiences by way of the written word — a tendency to share stories widely in e-mails or on blogs, rather than talking one on one to a friend on the phone. In the online age, we are all diarists.
Mr. Obama is probably the most talented writer to occupy the office in the television age; his political career was made possible, in large part, by the candid memoir he wrote as a younger man. So it is hard to understand why the president hasn’t tried to use that talent the way Mr. Kennedy capitalized on his personal charm.
You can easily imagine Mr. Obama sitting in front of a keyboard at the end of a long day, briefly reflecting on the oddity of a personal encounter or on the meaning of some overlooked event, or perhaps describing what it is like to stand in the well of Congress and deliver the State of the Union address. It could be that in order to expand the reach and persuasiveness of the modern presidency, Mr. Obama simply needs to be his online self — not so much a blogger as a memoirist-in-chief, walking us through history in real time.
Blogging, as much as i love it, is not a presidential habit I’d like to see. Yes, Obama is a somewhat talented writer. But he really needs to transform himself into a talented extemporaneous—and humorous—speaker. In this age of biting hyperbole—”Nazi socialist,” anyone?—he would do well to put the GOP down with humor. Lord knows the GOP gives him plenty of opportunity to point out their hypocrisy. He should take some questions at a couple of photo opp each week and be prepared to deliver a couple of prepared (to seem off the cuff) bon mots to the press corps. Engaging the press (and at the same time delivering a few biting comments about them) would make him seem less aloof. He just doesn’t seem to have the confidence to do it, however, as his advisors have convinced him to be overly cautious. Or that is his nature.
Still, an “authentic narrative” would be nice.