A reader writes:

I just saw Barack Obama speak in Washington Square - and I was underwhelmed.

Obama spouted cliches at the crowd: Hope, Optimism, A Better America. You could tell that people wanted to like him, but he wasn't giving people a reason to connect with him.

What Obama is missing is what Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton knew -- or actually, what they were: they saw issues not as abstract ideas or slogans, but as people. The high point of Obama's speech was an anecdote about a day he spent shadowing an SEIU health care worker. He talked about her pride and her pain, her fears and her dreams. He made "hope" concrete - not an idea, but a person.

Obama can only win if he makes this connection with people, empathizing with their hopes, and telling the stories that show what kind of a person he is. His biggest strength is his personality. Nobody actually likes Hillary -- they may think she's strong or effective, but she isn't winning on empathy. The media has succeeded in killing off Edwards's chances, too: whenever he tries to empathize, they call him a hypocrite. Obama's the only one who can embody ordinary America like Reagan did, like Clinton did, like FDR did...and someone needs to tell him, quick.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.