When New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof issued Barack Obama a report card last month, the president's job performance GPA was somewhere in the neighborhood of a B-. As someone who was once the editor of the Harvard Law Review (a position one doesn't typically earn with a B- average), this can't be particularly encouraging--especially coming from an avowed supporter like Kristof.
The columnist actually rated Obama fairly well in most subjects, but issued a flunking grade in one category: communication.
Kristof stopped by the Current TV chat show of California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to talk about Obama's unexpected inability to effectively communicate his message to the American people.
"It's kind of astonishing that a president who has such oratorical skills, and is such a fantastic writer as well, should have such difficulties crafting, if you will, bumper stickers. If you think about the health care debate, I don't think he ever came up with a good bumper sticker to sell it with a good message," said Kristof. "It's always said that candidates, when they're running for office, speak in poetry and govern in prose. But Obama's prose while governing has really felt like Latin."
"I also think he hasn't appreciated until recently, the power of the bully-pulpit," added Kristof. "That it's just not about making policy points, it's also about winning over the American people. About being the national 'hand-holder' in chief."
Newsom also asked Kristof about what he projected a second Obama term would look like. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer replied it might involve some of the bipartisan compromise rarely seen during Obama's first term.
"I don't think he has particularly clarified where things will go in a second term. That partly is the political constraint that any time you're very specific you're going to lose some voters in Ohio and Florida," Kristof explained. "But if I were guessing, I would think we are going to come out of this economic down turn. And that it's going to create some opportunities for a long-term fiscal deal. I don't know whether it could be done but I think it's possible.'
The Gavin Newsom Show, featuring interviews with Kristof and Export-Import Bank President Red Hochberg, airs on Friday, October 19th at 11 p.m. PST on Current TV.