The Corner


Barack Obama has increasingly faced the charge that he seems aloof and disconnected, but in some appearances lately he actually seems downright disoriented. Mayhill Fowler (via Instapundit) offers the following slightly disturbing description of Obama on the stump:

Did Senator Obama know to whom he was speaking? Likely not. That’s been his problem lately on the campaign trail–not knowing exactly where he was. He even made a joke about it in Hickory when he tried to recall where he had just met someone whose story he wanted to tell. “We were down in–where were we?” Quickly he came up with Winston-Salem, and everybody laughed. Monday in Wilmington, however, not only did he seem not to know Wilmington but the date and time, saying that it was “March” and “nine months to November.” The fact that his audiences are largely composed of die-hard fervent loyalists usually masks this underlying dis-connection.

Those of us nerdy enough to watch the candidates’ stump speeches in full on C-SPAN can attest that this kind of disorientation is actually a striking feature of a good number of Obama performances (though I don’t think I’ve seen one quite as bad as Fowler describes here). Surely the immense pressure and long days of a presidential campaign can be quite disorienting, but so can the immense pressure and long days of serving as president. That’s one way in which the long campaign actually is a test of some relevant abilities, and especially of sheer endurance. Hillary Clinton and John McCain somehow seem younger in this regard than the whippersnapper in the race. It’s not so hard to lose track of what particular city you’re in when you’re on the road so much, and for so short a time at each stop (though other candidates nonetheless manage not to do it). But shouldn’t a prospective president know what month it is?

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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