Call me a masochist. I've been doing some reading of Jimmy Carter's speeches lately and I'm struck by two points: he called for all the right stuff when it came to energy policy, but, and most importantly, he fell completely flat in inspiring us as a nation to rally and cut our energy use and our dependence on foreign oil.
I heard last night from an influential environmentalist and NRDC trustee. She wondered if NRDC is truly pleased with the environment and energy officials chosen by President-elect Barack Obama and said: "I just don't feel the urgency from this group....where is the fire?"
A very valid question and one that should give us great pause. The Blogojevich pay for play investigation, the continuing fallout of the various financial scandals and the bailouts are dominating the news.
But we also haven't heard much inspiration from Obama lately.
Now to be fair, this is a time for putting together a team, for the endless news conferences with soon-to-be government officials who tend to -- appropriately? -- seem rather scared and sober about the responsibilities they are soon to take on. And as Obama himself has noted, we only have one President at a time.
But I wonder -- worry? -- if governing will strip Obama of his ability to inspire. I know I could use a good Obama speech right about now, one like he delivered election night. One like he gave at the Democratic convention. Hell, I'll even take a version of his standard stump speech.
I do believe that the President-elect is picking an excellent team to lead. And I hope that he won't be so lost in the nuances and challenges of government that he'll lose his ability to inspire.
I can't even begin to say how tragic it would be for Obama to turn into Jimmy Carter 2.0. Right on the policy yet so lacking on the inspiration.