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The Snooze Factor

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What is that Barack Obama is saying? Or more to the point, what is he not saying?

In yesterday's MSNBC interview, Keith Olbermann keeps throwing Obama easy soft balls in the form of short, pithy lines that go straight at the blatant lies at the core of the recent rebound of the Republican ticket, and Obama fumbles every single one, coming off as the most scripted, cautious politician ever. Finally a somewhat exasperated Olbermann asks the candidate if he has given any thought to "simplifying your message." And then, to be even more helpful, he adds, "Like Reagan did when he reduced everything to 'Are you better off than you were 8 years ago?'" Obama replies in the affirmative, then goes off on an explanation of his simplified message which runs for several paragraphs. MSNBC meanwhile runs a text underneath reading "Can Obama Keep It Simple?"

But verbosity is not the only problem. Obama's comments on the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae meltdown suck all the politics from the issue and reduce it to a matter of competency. The crisis, according to Obama, is merely "a structural problem that needs to be fixed. He further notes, "I have to be fair on this one, Republicans and Democrats I think, in Congress, did not pay enough attention to the structural problem." And what is the structural problem? "Not regulating the financial markets generally," and specifically "not updating some of our financial regulations... This has ironically hurt the market... a little bit of well-applied regulation and transparency and accountability actually helps the market, helps the economy grow, and that's what I want to restore when I am president."

Right.

VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN: "THEY'LL PAY ATTENTION TO STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS!"

Umm.

How about this instead: "We need to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to protect American's investments in their homes. But if the government can lend a helping hand those at the top of the economic ladder, it can and must lend a hand to those at the bottom. My plan balances both. John McCain's just helps the rich."

Was that so hard?

This comes just days after Obama's assertion on Fox News that the troop surge in Iraq "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." Not only a stupid thing to say, but flat-out wrong.

According to Richard Cohen's op-ed in today's Washington Post, Obama's performance on ABC's This Week was no better:

Obama was cool, diffident, above it all -- unflustered, unflappable, unexcitable and downright unexciting. These "uns" ran on, a torrent of cool that frosted my flat-panel TV... Pathetic... Maybe he's worried about how America would receive an angry black man or maybe he's just too cool to ever get hot, but the result is that we have little insight into his passions: What, above all, does he care about? The answer, at least to the Sunday TV viewer, was nothing much.

Ouch.

I have heard all about Obama's cool disposition, and how this supposedly qualifies him to be commander in chief, but unless he can show some fire he is never going to get there. More than that, this is not just a question of style but substance. McCain's program is just more Bush/Republican corporate giveaways. Welfare for the rich. Obama can save all that "well-applied transparent regulation" for "structural problems" for the classroom, which is where he may end up if he keeps up like this.