What is it about Charisma?

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    I spent part of my evening last night in our local library reading time magazine. i caught just enough of the headlines at the vets yesterday to be intrigued.

    They had several articles on the campaigns.. no surprise there.. but one of them talked about the “magic” of the Obama campaign… which is mostly about the magic of the Obama campaign. And another.. surprisingly a pro McCain article.. talked about the importance of American confidence in the next President for out financial future.

    The theme seemed to be that we should elect someone who causes excitement about their campaign and will inspire confidence.

    This is not the Hillary/Obama thread… so i am actually asking both republicans and democrats what it is about this charisma/confidence/inspiration thing that so appeals to them.

    Because when i honestly ask Obama supporters why they support him and i listen, it really boils down to this one sentiment.

    And when i ask republicans i know (i do know people who really like McCain) .. the words are different, but the sentiment is the same.

    I know something like this is difficult to articulate… but would those of you who feel strongly please try.



    Interesting question. I suspect that it is so personal and individual that an aggregation of the responses won’t tell us much. In other words, everyone may want someone who inspires them, but what actually inspires us is all over the map.

    For example, I find geeks like Gore, with powerpoint presentations and endless facts, very inspirational. And the first public figure I responded to emotionally was Fidel Castro when some CBS show interviewed him in the Sierra Maestro Mountains — I was 7 and wanted to sign up.

    In some way, I find Obamamania as disturbing and inexplicable as I found the notion of drinking with Bush.

    Bottom Line, JoB, responding to charisma doesn’t require study or research or thought or trips to the library. Not being able to simply respond, was why I was awake at 1 a.m. this morning, posting to another forum. I heard something very disturbing about Obama on a radio call-in show and spent half an hour doing the research (to find out what I heard wasn’t true.) If I was just responding to his charisma, I could have rolled over and gone to sleep.

    The short winded summary of my long winded response is that charisma doesn’t take much work, on the part of the responder. AND many of us, on all sides, are desperately hungry for some kind of inspiration.



    i think the and you added… “many of us, on all sides, are desperately hungry for some kind of inspiration” rings to the heart of the matter.

    i know a lot of thinking people who respond overwhelmingly to Obama.. people like you and i who think powerpoint presentations loaded with facts are sexy.

    Really… castro… he was kind of sexy once, wasn’t he. Of course most of the people posting here are a little young to actually get that one since he isn’t so sexy now… but once he was for those huddled masses… sexy.



    Charisma is codified by the social sciences. Especially concerning presidential elections.

    Here is the authors web site of the original study the “keys” are based on.


    The following “keys” have proven accurate predictors in the past.

    The Keys are statements that favor the re-election of the incumbent party.

    When five or fewer statements are false, the incumbent party wins.

    Note how some of the “keys” can still be manipulated between now and the election.

    Expect it.

    When six or more are false, the challenging party wins.

    I score it as nine false keys even while leaving three unanswered, meaning we could win even with Gravel. But manipulation of perception via propaganda and false flag operations could shift the balance even now. This is why the Charisma key could be important.

    How do you score it?

    [1] After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of representatives than it did after the previous midterm elections.

    [2] There is no serious contest for the incumbent-party nomination.

    [3] The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.

    [4] There is no significant third party or independent campaign.

    [5] The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.

    [6] Real per-capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.

    [7] The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.

    [8] There is no sustained social unrest during the term.

    [9] The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.

    [10] The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.

    [11] The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.

    [12] The incumbent-party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.

    [13] The challenging-party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.






    ok ken… i got so lost in how cool this forecasting stuff was that i missed that it really doesn’t have anything to do with personal charisma…

    it does speak to what would make us long for another candidate.. and why we might find change so appealing… but there is something to Obama beyond that.. and if some of the McCain fans i have heard are any indication.. something beyond that to him too.

    besides.. this poll mentions charisma as one of the points.

    was that your point and i missed it?

    i am a little tired tonight.



    JoB, do you really need to ask that question?

    I think you understand why Obama has captured people’s hearts; you just don’t like it because you’re a Hillary supporter.

    If you parents had said to you, “I just don’t get RFK’s charisma. Why are all these young people supporitng him?” You would have rolled your eyes, right?

    I’m personally glad he’s charismatic–it will carry him farther than charts and graphs (and I like charts and graphs too)



    Charisma as expressed in the forecasting model, applies to the personal charisma of the candidate.

    To evaluate this objectively one must attempt to stand outside ones current frame of reference.

    Some can do so, some can’t. That is not a flaw in the reader. :)

    The Keys themselves are also objective. I gave a “false” answer to the key number 8

    (8) There is no sustained social unrest during the term.(false)

    While many, if not most, would consider this as “true” since there have not been riots or massive protests over the abrogation of the 4th amendment of the constitution.

    I would be interested in the way some of the more conservative members of this forum would calculate each key and why.



    Ken, it is the personal charisma of the candidates i am curious about. tho, you never fail to deliver something interesting.

    Kayleigh, of course i want to know. I am no troublemaker… and i am not just spouting sour grapes because Hillary doesn’t have charisma… because if you actually see her in person, she does.

    The media calls her a bitch.. they call Obama charismatic. Since those who support Obama seldom actually go see Hillary… the sound bites stick.

    What i want to understand is why his charisma is so compelling… and not just for Obama. McCain has his fair share as well.

    Obama has made his campaign about his charisma. It is about “change”. Right now it is almost entirely about his “groundswell” of support.

    My mom was a Kennedy supporter… because of what he stood for, not because he had charisma… though i have never been entirely sure:)

    Obama, in spite of the comparisons, is not Kennedy. He is charismatic and he is breaking a social barrier (catholic/black), but his voting record is not particularly progressive and if he has a clear plan he is keeping it’s details to himself.

    Kennedy had a very clear plan and a brother to help him carry it out. And… let’s not forget that he chose Johnson, in spite of the fact that they spit nails at one another… because of his legislative experience. If not for Johnson, Kennedy’s legacy.. the Civil Rights Bill would never have been passed.

    Kennedy came from a very shrewd political family who owed more political favors than anyone wants to look closely at… even today. That’s what is called “baggage” when applied to Hillary. It was called influence when applied to him.

    I really am trying to understand kayleigh. So, instead of saying, “you just don’t like it because you’re a Hillary supporter”… please weigh in on what you find so compelling about him.

    I will be getting out the vote in my precinct Kayleigh and if Obama is the candidate, you really do want me to understand and be able to do more than contrast democrats and republicans.

    And i would love to hear from someone who is compelled by McCain, because i have never really understood that one either.

    I did once, but after the way he sucked up to the Bush administration after he lost his chance at the last election.. i lost what little respect i had for him… and yet he is still perceived as a maverick. i don’t get it.

    of course, i don’t get all those in jokes either… my hubby and kids laugh at my blank expression while they banter. “There goes another one over mom’s head:)”

    So please, enlighten me.



    JoB, Obama has detailed information on his plans and goals on his website. He also has a pretty progressive voting record, if you check it out.

    I would talk with you about his charisma, but I honestly feel that you argue with or contradict most things that I say, so I don’t feel it would help much.




    and how is that going to make me a good advocate for your candidate if i end up representing him?



    Kayleigh.. i walked away from the keyboard and came back kicking my not so little bottom all the way. Although my answer to you was honest.. it wasn’t kind.

    All candidates have hype.. even yours. I believe that when you strip away the hype (Obama is the new Kennedy) and the buzz words… change, hope, etc… that there is still something left that i am missing. Or maybe i am not missing it but i just don’t get why it would be important to you.

    And whatever that really is Kayleigh, i can’t argue with it.

    I can point out that it isn’t his progressive voting record because he is only incrementally more progressive than Hillary and his voting record is a disappointment to the progressive district that elected him.

    And i know it isn’t because he has a better plan. His plan on the website is substantially more detailed than what he actually says and can defend, but it is still no match for the detail of Hillary’s plan.

    And i know that it isn’t about big money because he accepted plenty of it to get into the senate.

    Intellectually I know what it’s not. Those are points i can and do argue.

    I just don’t know what it is. and i want to know.

    I wouldn’t ask if i didn’t.



    JoB — I don’t think any of us will have any problem advocating for whoever gets the Dem nomination; no one expects us to have facts. The other side isn’t hampered by that and we need to learn not to be. (Those of you “on the other side” can leap in here if you want; I’m not talking to you right now so I’ll freely use “us” to mean “us”). :-)

    Here’s what we say: “We support Clint-Bama because s/he ain’t McCain.” Charisma? McCain? Not for me — But I’m immune to Obama’s charisma too. I do think he’s bright and talented and ready and, oddly, he’s more like me than Hillary.

    Kayleigh — neither of them has what I consider a significantly progressive voting record. Of all the smart experienced dem senators available, Obama chose *Lieberman* as his mentor. He campaigned actively for Lieberman in the Connecticut primary (he did NOT campaign for him in the general election, but he also did not join many of his fellow dem stars, including both Bill and Hill, in campaigning for Ned Lamont). As far as I’m concerned, that alone nullifies his claim to be antiwar from the beginning. On yet another hand, Hill and Barack voted the same as Lieberman on all but 3 key war votes in the past year. So what does that tell me, except I can provide anything depending on what day it is and what time I get up?

    On still another hand (am I up to 4 yet?), Obama speaks vehemently against NAFTA,CAFTA, and all of the other TAs that have decimated our labor force because they were badly implemented. Globalization is a fact — we can use it to raise all boats or we can use it to sink ours — BILL Clinton chose to do the latter. As an organizer, Obama helped people get back on another boat (or at least avoid drowning).

    I’m not a war-only person, so I balance the war (which, sadly, I think will drone on no matter who gets elected) against the economy and other interests and, overall, Obama is ahead by a nose.

    Fortunately, I don’t have to do anything more until the general election, so I can go back to working locally (Go Darcy Burner!)

    the c half — all opinion, all the time



    Charisma can only carry you so far. I know that I would feel a lot better to have someone running an entire nation, OUR nation, who has experience. Doesn’t experience count for anything?

    Job, I’m with you in the sense that a a candidate should be able to articulate their plan. Should be able to present details. I think this goes along with having experience.



    New resident… since i know you are on the other side of the aisle… or at least i know you lean republican… i would ask you about McCain’s plan.

    Experience does count and the biggest campaign issue that republicans and democrats can agree on is the economy. How will experience be relevant in McCain’s plan for the economy?

    And, it sounds to me as though his charisma doesn’t grab you much either. Or am i wrong?

    JoB giggles uncontrollably… i have to admit for us dems… just as for you republicans… it doesn’t matter much who is the seat… whether i get it or not.. charisma or not… i will still be not only voting but working for my candidate. charlabob, you take the wind out of girl’s sails some days:)



    Yeah, JoB, you’re right. I am not overjoyed about my candidate.

    There was a time when I was impressed with McCain.

    I just think that too many people, a lot of younger people, probably, are caught up in the allure and excitement of Obama instead of focusing on who is the best and strongest candidate. It actually scares me.

    I actually saw a license plate that said “Obama 08”, for pete’s sake.



    JoB, why do you ask if you don’t listen to the answers? Really–a serious question.



    NR, I give the young-uns more credit; my 21 year-old friend moved from Obama to Clinton because she thought Obama made promises he couldn’t deliver and he was all sizzle. (I never could talk her into Edwards, because she’d decided he was homophobic — ya’ win some and ya’ lose some.)

    Perhaps someone with allure and excitement *is* the best candidate for us now. Perhaps that’s what we need to get back into the world community and get out of this nationwide Non-Economic Depression. Or not. The best candidate is the one most likely to *help me* create the kind of world I want. Now, if I could only figure out who and what that is — and stick to it for five minutes.

    JoB, I’m best at dewinding my own sails — imagine what it’s like to have endless arguments with myself. I either always or never win.



    Cheney proved, once and for all, that experience is not a prerequisite for good decision making or even basic sanity.

    Clinton only offers hope in a backhanded way. She would be far better then any of the Republicans.

    Neither Dem candidate is progressive enough for me and I am not a lock step progressive anyway. (I believe the second amendment is pretty clear and easy to understand)

    However, the alternative of fear is hope. That is the thing we all miss.

    I quit being fearful a long time ago.

    Most of you, perhaps, don’t remember the time when we huddled under out wooden desks as if they could protect us from the world. Most of you did not grow up with the only TV station being owned by Jesse Helms, and watch his daily attempts to make everyone within the sound of his voice, afraid of communist, Negros and fifth columnist (which I never really did understand just who might that be unless it meant those who were not afraid.)

    Terrorist do not, and never have had the goal of destroying this country, the goal of terror is to create unreasoning fear and let the target destroy themselves with it.

    Some of the younger voters and first time voters have had to come to the same realization.

    A chance at a life of hope is better than a life based on fear.

    Also I suspect some of them are better at math than the older set :)

    The odds of getting hit by lightning while playing golf (even on a clear day) are better than getting injured in a terrorist attack.

    The odds of getting killed by a drunk driver are quite high compared to getting in any situation where an assault rifle is the answer.

    And the odds of a gay person getting married having any effect on my life in any way, only rise above zero if I am invited to the wedding.

    So why are we making decisions, or letting out representatives make decisions based on unreasonable fear.

    I choose hope over fear.

    And at this moment in time, Obama has the edge in the hope department.

    It would be a simple thing for Hillary to fold a little hope into her stump speech.

    She could get Ted Sorenson (JFK’s speechwriter)

    oops I just checked to make sure he was still alive and found this:


    Well that kinda thing can derail a good rant :)

    Who is writing Hillary’s speeches?


    But if she can insert a little hope for the future she could still pull out of the “Joementum” she is creating for herself.



    Can you be specific in exactly how Obama inspires hope in you?


    NewResident and JoB get it like some of the rest of you. I dislike how this satement will come across to the minority, but why are a few individuals so angry? I thought JoB asked a perfectly good question without attacking anyone. Good dialogue, people.

    Hope and inspiration are great, and I’ll hope that Obama can deliver, if that’s the direction this country takes, but he’s not my first choice.



    PrayingMan-tis-i… I agree. I think it is extremely informative and interesting to find out exactly what makes one person “love” one candidate over another. I wanted to know specifics as to how Obama is inspiring sooo much hope in so many people. I’m obviously on the other side of the fence, but I really want to know specifics. I would really like Ken to answer only because he seems so knowledgeable and is always able to convey what he thinks through his writing. I am very interested in this topic.




    Read it. Don’t listen to the audio. Keep the oratory out of the loop.

    Simple specifics?

    He understands history. The real history of this country, not the myth making needed to make just good soldiers or good consumers.

    He understands the constitution and its relationship to the Enlightenment philosophers.

    He understands the Great Experiment that this country is. The first nation ever to attempt to replace the Church – State – Aristocracy governing balance of feudalism, with the Executive, legislative and Judicial branches of a republic.

    The dynamic tension between the branches of each system are necessary to their longevity, but only in the latter system can the governed have a say in how the government functions.

    He also seems to understand that old FDR quote:

    We know that equality of individual ability has never existed and never will, but we do insist that equality of opportunity still must be sought.”

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt



    That was an inspiring speech (I’m sure he had help writing it), but what is his PLAN, Ken, that has you so supportive of him? What, exactly, is he ready to do to make our Country better?

    I think anyone can give an inspiring speech about the history of America. It tells me nothing, though, about where he is going and how. That’s what I would like to know.



    Wow.. look what happens when i go to lunch! I am really glad people are responding so positively to this thread. I am learning a lot.

    Ken.. i didn’t know Ted Sorenson was still alive but perhaps he hit the nail on the head with one word… “spirit”, especially when he spoke of instilling spirit of service in the young.

    Because that recalls those of us at the other end of the age spectrum of our youth:)

    Comparing Kennedy and Obama has become quite a sport… they were both young.. they were both great speakers… they both inspired the youth… they both were members of a minority… i buy all of that. But that Obama’s speech about the Iraq war after we had already engaged in it showed similar judgment to Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban missile Crisis… not so much.

    Kayleigh, just because i dispute objective evidence doesn’t mean i am not interested in subjective evidence.. what you think or feel.. not the rationalizations for feeling that way.

    This isn’t’ about having Obama or Clinton as our candidate. I am still hoping she will pull it off. It’s about my lack of understanding the appeal of Obama. It’s not Clinton good.. Obama bad. It’s about why Obama?

    I heard something on the radio while i was out that paraphrased was this: If we were choosing the best person for the job… it would be Clinton… but the best person to win and to inspire the nation is Obama.

    My idealistic and dreamy self says that had there not been Obama, Clinton may have been able to do both…

    but my more rational self says that had there not been Obama… we would probably be saying much the same things about Edwards.

    I still don’t understand why so many rational people have chosen to look at the similarities between Obama and Kennedy (the great Presidential icon of our age) and not the differences… but they have.

    And Ken, i will park my women’s lib self on the subject of the hatred of hillary and it’s base in fear:)… and the inconsistency i see there. Can we agree to disagree on that one ;-) or at least to call that one another thread for another time:)

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