If you’re curious about why Barack Obama has an 82% approval rating in the latest polls, take a look at Obama’s Christmas message. Nothing earth-shattering there; certainly no policy substance. It’s exactly what his detractors were pointing to when they kept saying “Just words.”
But in a country confused and scared by a crisis whose dimensions we have yet to measure, the capacity to say the right words – the words that give people the sense that someone competent and caring is in charge – can make all the difference.
Ask FDR. Obama has chosen Lincoln as his icon, for lots of good reasons. But he’s not in Lincoln’s position; he’s in Roosevelt’s. It’s good that he has mastered the art of the fireside chat.