Tag Archives: charisma

A quick comment on charisma

The difference tonight between Bob Casey’s and Kathleen Sebelius’ speeches demonstrates just one thing: it’s not really about what you say–it’s about how you say it.

Sebelius’s speech was well-constructed and had a brilliant, memorable line in reference to John McCain:

There’s no place like home…or a home…or a home…or a home…or a home…

Senator Casey’s speech, by contrast, was formulaic and not destined for the archive of great speeches.  On paper, anyway.

But that doesn’t matter.  Because Kathleen’s stage presence and speaking style was so flat that just about no one will ever remember that Kathleen Sebelius ever took the stage.  

For the record, I’m a big supporter of Sebelius and I was strongly interested in her as a possible veep candidate for Barack Obama.  My biggest doubts came when Sebelius gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union address in a way that vaguely resembled a deer staring into the headlights, trying hard to deadpan a slow, monotone delivery.

At the time many of Sebelius’ supporters said that she was a much better speaker than that example gave her credit for.  However, there’s no question that the DNC speech revealed that lack of speaking charisma is a fairly permanent condition for the Kansas governor.  And I’m sorry to say it, but that’s a big deal when you’re on the national stage.  Sebelius may be a fantastic governor, but being a national candidate demands more fire and ability to move emotions.  Especially since this is the night for attacking McCain, tonight’s speakers needed to swell with passion, and Sebelius didn’t have it.  Being vice presidential candidate demands a similar attack dog ability; tonight’s speech made me glad that Biden was the choice for that task.

Bob Casey, on the other hand, provided the fire that was needed.  Though the best line of the speech was kind of lame (“That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick!”), Casey moved the crowd, got them clapping, and stirred up a chant of “Four More Months!  Four More Months!”  It was effective.

Personally, I prefer Sebelius as a politician to Bob Casey.  Casey’s pro-life position sticks in my craw, and he said some unfortunate things during the primary.  But when it comes to the national stage, I’ll take charisma over minor policy differences.  It makes a big difference.  Because ultimately, politics is about moving voters.

And it’s that same charisma being displayed by Mark Warner at this very moment that makes him our likeliest bet for the presidency in 2016 after eight years of the ultra-charismatic Barack Obama.

We would do well to remember that, imho, when considering which candidate to support for governor of California as well.