Thursday, February 22, 2007

What is it about charisma?

With the recent rise of the reasonably -- for a politician -- intelligent ("bright"), attractive ("a nice-looking guy"), well-spoken ("articulate"), not-overly-accomplished ("clean") Barack Obama to the top of the Dem polls, I've heard more and more about his "charisma".

Okay, he has something which makes reporters go all glassy-eyed and say "oooooh," a lot. Some regular folks have been caught up in the mesmerizing effect of Obama's presence, too. Does that make him the man I want running this country?

In the comments of Ann Althouse's post re: Hillary!s response to David Geffen, the point was made that "Charisma is just the shiny foil wrapping. It means nothing whatsoever; never has. It is a gift, like good looks or physical prowess, and isn't the same thing as being talented or a true leader."

I'd like to make a correction. Charisma is a very, very powerful tool. Let's look at a few individuals in modern history who have been described as charismatic: Osama bin Laden. William Jefferson Clinton. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Adolph Hitler. Mao Zedong. Grigori Efimovich Rasputin.

This, then, is not a tool to be taken lightly, especially in troubled times. I very much want to see the substance behind the "shiny foil wrapping." Until then, I believe I will distrust the man with all that charisma. Shouldn't we all?

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