Feel Our Pain
The economy is still in dire straits, but Obama won’t stop acting cool.
My advice to President Obama would be to abandon the politics of cool, which I think have defined his first year of office, for something that looks and feels a little more real and authentic. I think the cool that served him well as a candidate has harmed him as president.
Whether it's the angst and frustration people feel with an economy that seems to be serving those at the top better than those struggling the most, or the people for whom a job makes a difference between college or not, or, at the end of the spectrum, where a job makes a difference between dinner or not, Obama hasn't displayed the skill to emote anything that resembles the country’s mood.
I also think that he has been too reluctant to show outrage at things that are so plainly outrageous. Take government spending: Obama campaigned against earmarks, and I think he's been ill served in refusing to show outrage that the process is broken. His reluctance to show emotions that match the American people’s puts a greater distance between him and the people than any of his predecessors. Clinton was the best—he showed pain to a degree I don't think Obama could be expected to do.
We all know Obama has the ability to be cool under pressure, but that’s only half of a person. I'm down in South Florida—not around political pros, but everyone here thinks it's outrageous a young jihadist's father went to the American embassy, and we didn't stop him from getting on an airplane or get an air marshal next to him. The inability to show any spontaneous emotional reaction will hurt Obama if he can’t make adjustments.
Nicolle Wallace served as a senior adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign from May to November 2008. She served President George W. Bush as an assistant to the president and director of communications for the White House, as well as communications director for President Bush's 2004 campaign.