cross-posted at my blog.

For those of you who missed President Obama tonight, this is the quote of the entire press conference. As a matter of fact, this quote best symbolizes the difference between President Obama and, not only his Republican opponent from the 2008 Election, but even his Democratic opponent from the 2008 Primaries . . .

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Very simple, isn’t it? One of those, poetic If moments of clarity . . .

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise
(Rudyard Kipling, “If“)

more after the jump. . .

But some of his critics still don’t get it. They call him a celebrity. They mock his popularity. They imply that he’s uppity. . . say he’s doing too much . . . call him an elitist. They do all of this as if the President is some clown or court jester sent to entertain the American people for the next four to eight years. It’s how we’ve been trained to think. Media culture has programmed us to view our political discourse as nothing more than a game of the dozens. It’s hyperbole, exaggeration and insult disguised as civic engagement.

But it doesn’t work with President Obama. His critics still don’t get it . . .

See . . .He’s not trying to impress you. You’re just impressed by him. No, he’s not trying to talk down to you. It’s just that you can’t help but find yourself listening to him. More than any president in my lifetime, it’s this president who invites a national dialogue by the way he carries himself.

Think back to the debates. How many times did we see President Obama acknowledge a point from the other side? How many times did we see our President bite his tongue when he could have (and perhaps should have) responded in kind?

It wasn’t long ago when a bunch of nervous Dems were wringing their hands over Hillary’s gas tax holiday, Joe the Plumber, or Drill Baby Drill. In fact, this time one year ago I remember a whole lotta Republicans and Hillary supporters predicting the death of Obama’s campaign over Jeremiah Wright. Remember that? Remember Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos? The great “he can’t win white voters” meme? Pat Buchanan hoping for riots in the streets of Denver?

And some of us were absolutely beside ourselves because we thought Obama just wasn’t playing the game the right way. But he’s the president now. Despite all of the naysayers, haters, doubters and pretenders there’s only one president. Now, who got game?

As for his competition? Well. . . Hillary now works for him . . . McCain has less respect from his own party than Joe the Plumber and Palin’s back in Alaska trying her best to stay relevant in the national media. These were the talkers in 2008. So many people made a habit out of speaking before thinking. Why? Because in our twisted way of thinking we’ve come to believe that that’s just what leaders do. From Hillary Clinton to John McCain to Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh . . . they all failed.

It’s true. People talk, but they ain’t sayin’ nothin’. But our President . . .

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Because when he speaks, the world listens. People want to hear what he has to say. Someone who knows the weight of his words. . . that’s our President.

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

No mention of George W. Bush. He didn’t have to. . . we got the message.

No need to belittle the questioner or dismiss the concern . . . just a skillful way to put things in their proper perspective.

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

How refreshing. We live in a 24-hour cable news cycle. We live in the era of YouTube, Internet blogs and message board beefs. We live in the era of campaign slogans, twitter and talk radio.

We live in an era where it’s perhaps the easiest it’s ever been to have someone else think for you . . . where being first is far better than being right . . . where ratings drive content. See, we’ve got it twisted. That’s what followers do. Real leaders think for themselves. Real leaders are flexible enough to know that they don’t know everything. Rather than waste energy on being the first or loudest, real leaders just get the job done.

If only more of our leaders were self-confident enough to say . . .

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

To not play the game that is the 24-hour news cycle. To not be pressured into following one’s gut at the expense of one’s intellect. To think for his or herself without following the pack. Sure it’s dangerous . . .

but . . .

“I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Me too, Mr. President. . . me too.

Related Posts with Thumbnails