Sunday, February 03, 2008

Michelle: The Secret Weapon

If you have not heard a speech by Michelle Obama, you should make it your next priority.

Utterly inspired. Genuine. Psychologically adept. Tough. Brilliant. Tenacious. I have never heard a speaker like her in my life. This woman can move elderly audiences in an Iowa meeting hall and urban audiences in a Chicago ballroom. She truly creates hope--more effectively than her husband actually, as she brings a pragmatic toughness, an understanding of delivering the truth of each moment to the listener that Barack's slightly more gauzy presentation lacks.

She accomplishes something very rare--she speaks tactically, but from a position of genuineness and truth. That is, she knows what she believes--there is no doubt--and uses every method of empathy to ensure that the listener fully understands the weight and import of what she has to say.

She knows she has something to say--and she is absolutely determined to ensure that it is heard. However, rather than reaching for a fearful imposture, a bellowing meant to sound inspirational, she thinks from moment to moment about the mind of the listener, and what would be most likely to leave this message within them.

She is adept, powerful, and accurate at this--her listeners feel the truth of her message as they identify with her effort to deliver truth, to cut through the various poses of the political game, and they are electrified by it.

If you look in her eyes, you don't see the slight self-congratulation that one sees in Bill Clinton's empathy, the self-regard at his own skill at the empathic touch; you don't see the fearful, confused reach for inspiration, covered over with a pose of strength, of her wife. You see determination--a recognition that a message needs to be delivered, and that she will work as hard as she can to ensure that it is heard and understood. It is sincere, genuine, eloquent, powerful, and, from what I have seen so far, the best of the season.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman