The most revealing video of the DNC may be airing right now on MSNBC. (Go ahead, tune in. You'll catch it. They've got nothing but time to kill until Olbermann and Matthews convene tonight's slapfight, and they're cycling through B-roll like it's going out of style.) It's a ten-second clip of Barack Obama doing his walkthrough at Mile High Stadium last night. The thing is no great shakes, as video goes: It's poorly lit and badly composed, shot MOS from a low angle, as if a pool videographer grabbed it on the fly from the area in front of the stage. Obama enters from the left, hands in his pockets, and ambles -- there's no other word for it -- casually to the podium, as if he were walking to the end of the driveway to get the papers. And he's smiling.
I'm not so naive as to believe that figures like Obama don't have a preternatural sense of when they're on camera, and the savvy to tailor a performance. But here's a guy on the bleeding edge of history, hours away from having the biggest moment of his life watched by literally millions of people. The sense is inescapable of a person who, in that enormous moment, is at ease. Comfortable in his own skin, as the cliche goes. Compare this with John McCain's snappish sit- down with Time reporters recently, and with... Well, gosh, with pretty much every appearance he's made on camera since he became the GOP frontrunner. The contrast is hard to ignore.
Cool is an ineffable thing, and it doesn't win elections. Nor should it. But given the choice between a candidate with composure and one who threatens to burst apart like a pinata at the slightest touch, I know where I come down.
Cross-posted at billbarol.tumblr.com.
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