While eschewing emotion - and its companion, vulnerability - Obama should be careful not to sacrifice empathy, the 'I feel your pain' connection that sustained Clinton. This connection is the shorthand people use to measure their leaders' intentions. If people believe you're on their side, they will trust your decisions.
On the day I started college in 1979, no woman had ever been on the United States Supreme Court or served as the Speaker of the House. None had been an astronaut or the solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast. Not one had been president of an Ivy League college or run a serious campaign for president.
Obama seemed poised to realign American politics after his stunning 2008 victory. But the economy remains worse than even the administration's worst-case scenarios, and the long legislative battles over health care reform, financial services reform and the national debt and deficit have taken their toll. Obama no longer looks invincible.
You as the press secretary have to protect the president's interests and the White House's interests more broadly. And a lot of people inside the White House, as you learned, sometimes with painful experience, have competing agendas, have differing points of view, have priorities they're trying to protect.
Palin was a political Hail Mary, a long bomb in the closing minutes of a game that John McCain and Co. were certain to lose. They didn't care if she had the policy or political or emotional capacity to serve as vice president, let alone president. They were willing to drive the country off a cliff, if that's what it took to win.
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