Regarding Obama’s recent comments in San Francisco that have been seized on with such relish by his opponents… reading the whole transcript, of course I can see what he meant. But I can also hear what some people heard (and I don’t think the problem is that they only heard an excerpt). No matter how thoughtful you are about an issue, how you say something is just as important as what you say. It’s something I’ve had to learn and occasionally re-learn in life. Sometimes I think I’m being very clear and warm about something, but what other people hear is just something verbose and clinical. It can be very frustrating to perceive that you just aren’t speaking the other person’s language. In such cases you need to sometimes try again.
And today’s all-pervasive media coverage means that a politician cannot really get away with tailoring one message to one audience, and having it remain unheard by a different audience. A candidate is really now speaking to all Americans at all times. I am not too sure that it is the responsibility of voters to work overly hard at trying to “understand” a candidate who’s asking them for a job. I still think the onus falls upon the candidate to learn to speak clearly to his would-be constituents — all of them. A tough task.