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.