Monday, March 31, 2008

The comment that made me support Barack

I was driving home from campus one day back in January and NPR was covering the stories coming from the recent democratic debate in Nevada. One news story of the day was a debate question which asked the candidates to comment on their biggest weakness. It's a question we have all gotten in a job interview and the conundrum is how one should answer it. Do you expose something real about yourself or spin it around by highlighting a "weakness" that is really some desirable trait.

I'm always in favor of a real answer. Why not share some of your faults? We are all human and we all have some shortcomings. What's important is to recognize them and find people who can compliment your own skills and fill in any gaps you might have. Worse is the person who can't recognize their own mistakes or see their own faults. For me, I'm less concerned about the weakness than how he chose to answer the question and, later, deal with the criticism.

On the radio story Barack addressed head on the weakness he admitted in the debate. He has "a messy desk "and "can loose track of details" and "needs good people" to help him. His opponents "get impatient...frustrated when people don't understand...we can do so much more to help each other" and "I sometimes have a powerful emotional response to pain of those around me." When asked about this, Barack stood by his answer and suggested "one of the hallmarks of our campaign is that I actually answer questions honestly and try not to engage in too much spin".

If you want to listen to the clip, the audio from is available here. The core part of the story begins at 3 minutes but the specific section that won me came at 4:50 into the story. The transcript of the key section is attached below.

Also below is a YouTube video from the debate. Listen to the original comments and decide for yourself.

Quoted from NPR website:

Perceived Weakness Obama takes another jab at his rivals when asked about a response he gave to a question at a
recent Democratic debate.

At a debate in Nevada, Obama was asked about his weaknesses. He
confessed that his greatest weakness is a lack of organization — a messy desk
and office. At the debate, Obama answered the question first, followed by
Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC).

"I think Sen. Edwards said he was too passionate about
helping poor people, and Sen. Clinton said she was too impatient to move the
country forward," Obama tells NPR. "I was trying to answer the question
'What's your greatest weakness?' as opposed to 'What's your greatest
strength disguised as a weakness?'"

"I should have said I like to help old ladies across the street," he says.

But Obama says he would not want to redo his response.

"I think one of the hallmarks of our campaign is that I actually answer
questions honestly and try not to engage in too much spin," he says.

This clip is from the debate. If you want to hear Barack's answer and those of the other candidates, fast forward to the 5:40 mark.

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