Aspiring Presidents

Josh Marshall notes today Jeff Greenfield’s “Obama sounds like Osama” sound bite; sure, it’s idiotic, it’s been noted before, and it’s going nowhere.

More interesting was Greenfield’s comment about the senator’s casual dress, that it “reflects one of Obama’s strongest political assets, a sense that he is comfortable in his own skin, that he knows who he is.”

Greenfield goes on to contrast Obama with Kerry, Bush, and Richard Nixon: Kerry and Nixon seemed always uncomfortable. As for Bush, Greenfield wryly notes: “Third-generation Skull and Bones at Yale? Don’t be silly. Nobody here but us Texas ranchers.”

Think for a moment about our recent presidents — about all of the candidates of the last twenty years. Kerry might have been the smartest guy in the room, but he was never comfortable in that role; Clinton, by contrast, relishes it and has the rare ability to make even the most abstruse and complex ideas accessible to almost anyone within earshot. Gore? A stiff. Bush 41? Another stiff, unable to connect with the public and the victor in ’88 because Dukakis was, incredibly, even stiffer.