Sunday, March 02, 2008

Authentic Change

The WP reports today that Obama has "thrown away the script" in Ohio, turning from his stump speech to a series of town hall meetings.

Ohio and Texas are tight. The contest is too close to call. This is, for a campaign, a "red phone" moment.

Note how Obama responds.

Instead of an array of tactical shifts in persona, Obama shows the strength and fortitude that he has demonstrated all along--in a kind of reverse Rove (recall that Rove was famous for taking his adversary's greatest strength and attacking it) taking his greatest ability and putting it to the side, moving from score to improvisation, to further answer the questions of the people--something he has done all along the campaign trial, but now is putting aside his greatest strength to emphasize.

Note what he could have done: He could have gone on the attack, derogating Hillary's past through the ad hominem methods all too recently seen. He could have attempted to change the presentation of his personality, in order to find the persona that consultants recommend, changing his tone, his emotions, shifting through traits like a anxious shuffle through a deck of cards, searching for the combination that would meet the seeming demands of the day. In a moment of pressure--at 3 .A.M.--he could have responded with panic and artifice.

Instead, he moves *away* from his strength, and presents himself simply before the people.

This is judgment, which arises from a known and consistent self. It does not arise, despite experience, from a self that uncertain, fearful, and therefore driven by fear, to change under the pressures of the moment.

This is what will count when genuine moments of crisis occur in our future evenings, in our 3 A.M. moments, and in the early dawn.

-Dr. Alan J. Lipman