THE BLOG
01/27/2009 05:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Power of 'Vibes' in Politics Right Now

With everything going on right now with our economy, it is our highest hope that everyone with power in Washington is truly hustling -- and making decisions with the fact that most people in the United States are operating in some sort of 'crisis mode.' Americans are in no mood for rich Congressmen shaking their heads and griping simply to argue a point.

The word VIBE is described as: (noun) -- a distinct emotional aura experienced instinctively. Just how important is a vibe as opposed to words and actions? Quite possibly, the vibe of a politician is another fundamental disposition all together, right up there with their policies and record. To say that Obama and McCain fought simply on issues would be naïve, to say the least. One poll conducted said that 68% of people rejected the adjective 'refreshing' to describe anything associated with John McCain. The common perception of the campaign was that McCain had experience but many people I talked to personally felt like he was a crotchety old man who looked like he just wanted to take a nap and yell at someone. Not exactly a person you want to put in a room with Ahmadinejad and Medvedev.

To say that Barack Obama won the 44th United State's Presidency on his giving off 'positive vibes' alone is obviously an overstatement, but there are shining rays of truth in that notion as well. What is more interesting is the way he is being received by the media, the House of Representatives and the public right now -- and then the way in which he responds.

Referring back once again to the long-trodden campaign, President Obama campaigned with words, websites and aides throughout. Attacks on him weren't spared: a connection to activist William Ayers, a stretched-out accountability accusation for Reverend Wright's choice of words and ultimately, a bizarrely-brazen (and ferociously ignorant) use of his middle name at rallies to remind scared Americans that his middle name was in fact, Hussein.

For some reason I can't see President Obama saying 'John Sydney McCain' if the name 'Sydney' bore the same name as a terrorist like Osama bin Laden. It would be classless; but that's exactly the route the Republicans steered Mr. McCain down. That's because Obama did something that John McCain couldn't seem to do -- something that Hillary Clinton couldn't seem to do either - and that was to wipe the dirt off his shoulder and keep smiling. This made Barack Obama float into the J.F.K. iconic, untouchable category -- which fueled his rivals and opponents even more (and as a result, the famous Paris Hilton commercial was made).

There were never any pictures of President Obama scowling at a press member, yelling on YouTube, or riddled with dismal looks. Barack smiled a lot and demonstrated an even temper, and was quite firm when it was called for. It was pointed out to me that even at the infamous rally where John McCain was quoting that our economy was 'fundamentally strong' just weeks before the unveiled Wall Street Crisis, the way he said it was not uplifting or reassuring but downright forlorn and gloomy. In fact, at most of his campaign rallies that you can go to on YouTube, even when making a point he sounded more like he was complaining (i.e., when unveiling his plans for Clean Coal).

Barack Obama did his fair share of fighting back the criticism and attacking McCain's policies, but he was quite tactful in the way he did it. If you watch any of his rallies or at the debates, whenever he goes on the defensive or offensive, he is direct and short -- getting to the crux of the negativity, offering an explanation or showing a sharp contrast and then immediately reverting to a positive phrase or sentence that ends on an uplifting note. If you listen to his speeches, note that he almost always follows a negative statement with a positive one, laced with some sort of plan or solution.

Going forward, what does this mean? The media will most likely continue to be critical of quick decisions (closing Gitmo, pushing through a new stimulus). That's fine; it's their job to criticize. The GOP is most likely going to throw up roadblocks where they can to stop as much 'liberal' progress as possible (an inept GOP shook their heads to contraception for poor America this week). That's fine; old habits die hard. The public is bound to question decisions he makes. That's fine; rarely does the public know the entire story surrounding a President-in-Chief's decision.

I suspect President Obama is going to keep doing what he does best: smile and wipe the dirt off his shoulder. Some of those smiles might end up being contagious -- hey, GOP, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! This is not the time for negative vibes and blockading. Will the stimulus cause us to fall deeper into the hole? Sure. Am I an economist? No. Neither was John McCain, though, as he reminded us on the campaign trail when asked about the economy. At the end of the day you can have three Columbia economists debating about the best way to get us out of the hole with three totally different ideas. Sometimes you just have to say, 'This is the best possible solution,' and go with it.

The partisan 'vibe' in Washington has been allowed and even supported by the public, reaching a fever pitch in the last three decades. The calls from both sides, boasting bi-partisan leadership whilst simultaneously nay-saying the opposite party has gone on long enough. Just maybe President Obama's positive vibes can actually kill the bad blood with kindness.