Obama Tops Clinton, in a Manner of Speaking

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Commentator Daniel Pinkwater says Barack Obama has the advantage over Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, because Obama talks in public as if he were talking in private. She doesn't.


Daniel Pinkwater - let's call him a junior news analyst - says he seldom ventures into political commentary, but he says he has reason to at this moment in the campaign.

DANIEL PINKWATER: This is the public me. I am talking. Now, this is the private me talking. Can you hear the difference? I can, but it's subtle. I not only sound pretty much the same in conversation with friends as I do when speaking to a big audience, I try to do it on purpose. Therefore, except for the fact that I don't understand any issues and have the intellectual power of a bowl of Shredded Wheat, I would make a reasonably good political candidate.

Every now and then I switch over from the Cartoon Network and listen to news commentators. The pundits, now called pundints by practically everyone, have been speculating at great length about Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. Lately they have been explaining why Obama has been doing better in primaries than Clinton. They explain that she appeals to certain demographic groups and he appeals to other demographic groups, and then they ponder why the groups didn't vote the way they were expected to.

Here's what I think. Senator Clinton sounds one way in conservation and another way when she speaks to a large group. I don't mean content. I mean her tone of voice, her style. This suggests she's inauthentic and that she's faking one mode or the other. Senator Obama seems more comfortable. He seems conversational when he addresses an audience, and he comes up with the rhetoric and quotables when he does a one to one interview. It sounds like the same guy all the time. I don't think it's about race or gender or family income or qualifications. I think it's about who had a better public speaking teacher in high school. And I think it's about how we, a nation of TV viewers, rate the performance of entertainers and politicians we see on the tube. But what do I know? I'm just a friendly, reasonable guy who sounds smart.

NORRIS: Daniel Pinkwater's party headquarters where he works on those smarts are in New York's Upper Hudson River Valley.

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