People Persons

I was watching CSPAN while giving Ella a bottle just now; they were showing John Kerry mingling with supporters somewhere in New Hampshire. He was clearly feeling under the weather, but nevertheless talked one on one with dozens of people, each with their own individual problems or comments. He posed for pictures. He answered questions. And it struck me: what’s this nonsense about him being “wooden?” Here he is, obviously exhausted, and he can still work a crowd with the best of them. Of _course_ he can: he wouldn’t have made it this far if he couldn’t.

This goes for everybody else, too. Kerry isn’t wooden. Gore wasn’t a robot. Dean isn’t angry, either, and Bush isn’t stupid. Heck, I saw Lieberman on CSPAN a few months ago doing the same sort of thing as Kerry, and even _he_ was impressive. They all do have their individual tics, their strengths and weaknesses, but if they didn’t have that weird ability to _connect_ to perfect strangers, they wouldn’t be in this business in the first place. We do all candidates a disservice by judging them by their performances in front of the bright lights, and by going along with the shorthand evaluations that a culture of sound bites inevitably creates. In a perfect world each citizen would be able to look each candidate in the eye; as it is, everyone should watch them mingle with the crowds on CSPAN. You’ll learn a lot.