Monday, October 15, 2012

Obama must become stage actor in debates

Being president often involves performing various official ceremonies and rituals.  In times of national emergencies, the president must appear calm when talking before public even if he or she might not feel that way inside.

For the presidential debates, the candidates must go even one step further in taking on something similar to an actor's role in some cases.  The president's supporters are not looking for intellectual arguments during the debate, if we are to judge from debate reactions dating back to the 2008 campaign.

What they are more interested in is seeing the president voice their own concerns, but in a way that also expresses their own feelings.  They want the president to be their voice -- a voice that become angry and indignant at times.

President Obama must think about his more fervent supporters and think of the way they would express their own frustrations over certain types of issues. That is the type of "red meat" that many debate watchers are looking for.

Of course, he has to do it in a way befitting to his office.  Also, he need to avoid appearing like the "angry black man" stereotype.

The president's training as an intellectual and years of experience as a college lecturer are not the best type of preparation for this type of thing.  For that reason, he needs to act.  His own natural response would be to welcome dissenting opinions since that is the general environment that exists on college campuses.

However, during the debate, he needs to react strongly if Mitt Romney is dishing out the "malarkey."

Another reason this is important is that Republicans have not been cooperative with the president in office.  Here in California, we could see how former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger built up a good working relationship with President Obama. Unlike many other GOP governors, he was more than ready to accept stimulus funds, for example.

The relationship was so positive that Arnold is still undecided on which candidate to support, although he did endorse Sen. John McCain in the last presidential election.

However, this was a rare exception to the rule during Obama's first term.  The Republicans in Congress sought to obstruct the president at almost every opportunity after a short "honeymoon" period right after the 2008 race.

Obama supporters do not want their candidate to seem like he can be bullied around by Republicans during a second term.  He needs to be ready to call out Romney in a way that shows he's not playing around.  Obama's base will be looking for their candidate to show strength and engagement while forcefully expressing their concerns even if that is not his natural style.

However, he doesn't have to be a Shakespearean actor to pull this off. He just needs to channel the emotions that he encounters regularly on the campaign trail.  

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