On the occasion of President Obama’s third State of the Union address, I was privileged to be in attendance and witness his ongoing metamorphosis from community organizer and novice power broker, to compelling orator and worldly statesman. President Obama insured that all of the optics were aligned–for his fellow Americans and his global viewers.
Uncharacteristically, he put the brake on his penchant for off-putting frequent references to “MY administration,” using the phrase very sparingly–maybe only once. Instead he chose more unifying and inclusive words, generously, and for emphasis invoked “my fellow Americans” twice. “No Drama Obama “was at his best, in a low steady voice filled with controlled passion. He just left to the side contrived political fanfare.
The uniqueness of the occasion was duly noted by media, beforehand–noting both his august office and the imposing lectern at which the president gave his no nonsense and no big news speech. Mr. Obama opened with a matter of fact, “Good evening,” and moved into his subject briskly. His voice conveyed his position of authority while reflecting a strong undercurrent of multi-layered emotion, maybe not so different from a vast cross section of the American public
Terrorist threats produce a powder keg of emotion as dangerous as the threat of an attack. The president seemed mindful of his listeners, apparently aware of eroding approval and growing skepticism about his bona fides to deal effectively in complicated foreign affairs issues. He addressed his listeners across the country as participants to be persuaded rather than as subjects expected to tolerate a blind “father knows best” policy. Indeed, he connected more and pontificated less, than usual and there was a noticeable absence of his oft spoken colloquial pronunciation of words that end with ing.
He took responsibility for charting the course. But, on this occasion he presented to the world, faith in his team the American people as much as the members of his Administration..
In calling the extremists “thugs, killers and a death cult,” the president summarized succinctly the sentiments of most of the world–across political parties and social classes. These were his most powerful and penetrating words of the evening. In contrast at his recent post-president appearance, Mr Obama makes clear he remains resolute, but he is more rested.
Note: An earlier version of this article appeared timely to his 3rd State of the Union Address.