In an epilogue within Harry Reid's paperback version of "The Good Fight," Reid reveals that in response to a comment to a speech by then Sen. Barack Obama that he described as "phenomenal," Obama simply stated, "I have a gift."
This was pretty much how Barack Obama's oratory skills were described during the campaign that elevated him to the presidency. I wonder just how valuable was that gift?
Since assuming office in January, President Obama has become nearly addicted to his teleprompter to the extent that his obsession with it is becoming legendary. I cannot possibly imagine the pressure that any young president might face when forced to speak to so many people; no one can possibly harshly criticize him for the occasional gaffe or misstatement along his new journey. But one would think after enduring such a protracted primary and 100 days as president of the United States, Obama might have gotten the hang of public speaking by now.
Yet, I cannot help but compare him to who I believe to be one of the most "phenomenal" young political speakers I have ever had the privilege to hear. Upon being catapulted into the national limelight with very little warning, Sarah Palin was nearly the "Great Communicator" as President Ronald Reagan himself. Although she was immediately pounced upon by a vicious media and the political opposition, it wasn't because of Palin's inexperience, gender or anything other than fear. Up until just before the Republican convention, Democrats were enjoying a less than stellar campaign by John McCain; surely he wouldn't pick anyone to run with him who might pose a real threat to Obama's ascendancy to the presidential throne. But there Palin was, wowing every audience she encountered and easily continuing on when the teleprompter she was obliquely using failed her.
President Obama's recent problems with this machine reveal him to be nothing more than a proficient reader. I just hope he received a gift receipt for his speaking skills so that he might be permitted to return them for new ones; the current version must be defective.
Jerome R. Kinderman