Eloquence Can, in Fact, Be Presidential

Those dismissing Obama's speaking skills miss a key point of the role of a president
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2008 4:17 PM CDT
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., looks downward as he is introduced at a campaign event at Thorngate Ltd., in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Tuesday, May 13, 2008.    (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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(Newser) – It’s a bit weird to defend something like eloquence, but that’s just the task to which the primary season has inspired Calvin Trillin, writing in the Los Angeles Times. Rivals and pundits alike dismiss Barack Obama’s eloquence as some kind of liability, whereas Trillin sees in the Democrat's ability a key component of the role of president.

Hillary Clinton often trots out Mario Cuomo's nugget “You campaign in poetry and govern in prose.” But, Trillin writes of the president, "It's part of his job to comfort the American people in times of distress or inspire them to sacrifice for the greater good"—and this ability can yield as much political capital as Eisenhower's war heroism or JFK's charm.