James Forsyth

Obama’s personal appeal

Obama's personal appeal
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In the slew of polling data that has come out to mark Obama’s 100 days, two numbers stand out to me: 81 percent of Americans like Obama, that’s 30 percent more than support his policies. This is a result of several things: his personal manner, the fact that people appreciate the historical significance of having a black president and the respect afforded the presidency. But I think an often overlooked factor is that even though Obama is a committed liberal he has some conservative instincts on, most notably, family policy and education. Take this comment from him in a just released interview with the New York Times Magazine:

“My grandmother never got a college degree. She went to high school. Unlike my grandfather, she didn’t benefit from the G.I. Bill, even though she worked on a bomber assembly line. She went to work as a secretary. But she was able to become a vice president at a bank partly because her high-school education was rigorous enough that she could communicate and analyze information in a way that, frankly, a bunch of college kids in many parts of the country can’t. She could write —

Today, you mean?

THE PRESIDENT: Today. She could write a better letter than many of my — I won’t say “many,” but a number of my former students at the University of Chicago Law School. So part of the function of a high-school degree or a community-college degree is credentialing, right? It allows employers in a quick way to sort through who’s got the skills and who doesn’t. But part of the problem that we’ve got right now is that what it means to have graduated from high school, what it means to have graduated from a two-year college or a four-year college is not always as clear as it was several years ago.”

I suspect most people reading this would agree with what Obama’s saying, but it is still the kind of thing one doesn’t normally hear from left wing politicians. It is one of those things that explains why people who aren’t liberals are prepared to listen to Obama.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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