Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Charisma and Obama

A piece on charisma from The Boston Globe called The Charm School by Mark Oppenheimer. It's terrific, provides context as far back as the Greeks and makes a good effort at unfolding that "Je ne sais pas!"

Re Obama's charisma -
Barack Obama embodies many contradictions. He is both black (his father) and white (his mother); from an exotic locale (by birth in Hawaii) and from a big city (by residence in Chicago); and Christian (by choice) and non-Christian (with two irreligious parents, one of them with Muslim ancestry). And surely these contradictions lend him an air of vulnerability and approachability. But Obama's contradictions don't quite make him a Diana figure. Rather, Obama shows how charisma can reside in other people's desire to figure one out. "He seems so familiar," Roach says. "But what could be more definitive of strangeness than to be running for president of the United States in 2008 with the name Barack Hussein Obama? But he holds those together. We're fascinated by the ability to hold contradictions and make them seem harmonious."
I also heard an interview on NPR with the author as well as some others on the same topic - a 30 minute discussion on if one can teach charisma.

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