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Barack, Use Cabinet Announcements to Rekindle the Vision

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<em>In the first installment of this piece, at  ,,,, I said, essentially:  "Barack, much of your potential power is based on a spiritual force you've tapped into. That force manifested itself in jubilant celebration around the country and around the world the night you were elected. Don't let that spiritual fire die down. Keep blowing on those embers."

I closed that piece with the statement that while the transition period imposes limits on the extent and the ways that Obama is able, appropriately, to re-ignite those fires that burned so brightly in people's hearts on election night, I do see a suuitable opportunity which I would describe in the next installment.

Here it is.</em>

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In the days or weeks ahead, you will be announcing your choices for various cabinet positions.  These announcements are generally made with the president-elect and the cabinet-nominee standing together on a stage with a podium and a microphone.  The P-E makes some perfunctory and laudatory comments about the nominee and the nominee then makes some perfunctory comments about how honored he or she is and how he looks forward to the confirmation process and to serving blah blah blah.  These events are generally unexciting.

They don't need to be.  

What I suggest to our president-elect is this:  use these occasions as an opportunity to rekindle your vision in the minds and spirits of those who have celebrated yourelection, as a way to remind them of why your election represents a fundamental change of direction and spirit for this country (and, thereby, for the world), and as a way to inspire people with a vision of where you intend to take this country.

Each cabinet position offers an opportunity to articulate one component of your vision.
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The designation of your choice for Secretary of State provides you with an opportunity to present your vision of America's new role in the world, of what kind of world you hope to move toward with the Obama presidency.  

The designation of your choice for Attorney General provides you with an opportunity to present your vision of an America with the rule of law and the respect for the Constitution restored.

The designation of your choice for the Secretary of the Treasury provides you with an opportunity to speak to America's current economic distress, and to provide your vision of how you intend to tackle the present crisis.

And so on.

Actually, I would suggest choosing between three and five cabinet positions for this kind of treatment, and then to have a week in which you hold such press conferences on successive days until the cycle is complete.  Putting these events together would generate a kind of momentum, and would capture the public attention like a kind of mini-series.
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Since these are not generally occasions for major speeches, and because your nominees would presumably be standing nearby, I would compose your talks to be no more than five to ten minutes in length.

Since these events are like press conferences, I would suggest a level of rhetoric more subdued than you draw upon for your acceptance speech or your victory speech, or other speeches before an arena of people.  However, I would use rhetoric that engages the spirit more than during the usual press conference.

To be more precise, for those 5-10 minute speeches, I would employ a level of rhetoric comparable to your outstanding and well-received talk about race last March in which you defused the Reverend Wright issue.  That was quiet, but it had passion in it.  It was appropriate to a small gathering, but people were moved.  

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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