President Barak Obama missed an important opportunity to build hope for the success of his economic program this evening on CBS’s 60 Minutes program. With the economy in a recession that could spiral down into a full blown depression, the American people are looking for assurance from the President that the steps that the administration and the Federal Reserve are taking will work. Instead we saw a man who appeared uncertain, wishy-washy and light hearted.
Asked by Steve Croft if he thought that the people on Wall Street believed in him, Obama skirted the question. He began with, “Part of my job is to communicate to them “look, I believe in the market, I believe in financial innovation and I believe in success and that I want them to do well” and then went on to say that the pay on Wall Street is out of balance. He failed to answer the question in an inspiring manner. For instance, he might have said, “There are some on Wall Street who have concerns. And over the next days and weeks my administration and I will be taking steps to ensure that Wall Street understands that the plans that we putting will place will take us out of the recession and create a period of tremendous growth in the country.”
Asked who will work for the banks and investment firms if their investment professionals are limited to bonuses of $250,000, the President said that these people should go to North Dakota, Iowa or Arkansas, where people would be thrilled to earn $75,000. This type of condescending statement doesn’t add credence to his earlier statement that he “believes in success” and will only further the schism between him and Wall Street.
A number of times during the interview, Obama laughed inappropriately and gave the appearance that his was making light of the economic situation. Asked by Croft why he was laughing about the predicament of the automobile industry, Obama explained it as “gallows humor.”
Furthering the perception that the President lacked conviction, were the number of non-positive words that he use liberally throughout the interview:
- “uh” – 122 times
- “I think” – 11 times
- “I tried” – 4 times
Think about how Winston Churchill (“We will not surrender”), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) or Martin Luther King (“We as a people will get to the promise land”) would have spoken.
Lastly, I’d like to see our President sound more Presidential by dropping some his colloquialisms, such as the word “stuff”, as in “He (Geitner) has a lot of stuff on his plate.” His wife was “planting stuff” in the garden. When asked about the White House, he described it as “pretty nice digs.”
Here’s how I rate the President’s 60 Minutes interview on the three most important parts of any presentation on a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the highest:
- How he looked: 7. He looked sharp in his navy blue suit, light blue shirt and blue tie. Nice smile, good eye contact. I’ve taken on point away for his not wearing over the calf socks and therefore exposing his leg as he sat with his legs crossed during the interview. Another two points for the inappropriate laughter.
- How he sounded: 5. The preponderance of weak words were a killer.
- What he said: 5. He missed the chance to create hope, and hope is what he need now more than ever.
- Overall score: 6