April 28, 2012

PEGGY NOONAN: Republicans are aggravated by Obama. They should cheer up. So is everyone else.

Republicans are worried about the power of incumbency, and it is a real power. Presidents command the airwaves, as they used to say. If they want to make something the focus of national discussion, they usually can, at least for a while. And this president is always out there, talking.

But—and forgive me, because what I’m about to say is rude—has anyone noticed how boring he is? Plonking platitude after plonking platitude. To see Mr. Obama on the stump is to see a man at the podium who’s constantly dribbling away the punch line. He looks pleasant but lacks joy; he’s cool but lacks vigor. A lot of what he says could have been said by a president 12 or 20 years ago, little is anchored to the moment. As he makes his points he often seems distracted, as if he’s holding a private conversation in his head, noticing crowd size, for instance, and wishing the front row would start fainting again, like they used to.

I listen to him closely and find myself daydreaming: This is the best-tailored president since JFK. His suits, shirts and ties are beautifully cut from fine material. This is an elegant man. But I shouldn’t be thinking about that, I should be thinking about what a powerful case he’s making for his leadership. I’m not because he’s not.

The suits are nice, but they’re empty.

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