The hour is growing late, the campaign aides are growing weary, the candidates are growing grouchy and unfriendly toward criticism.
But somebody has to tell Barack Obama to stop referring to the audience by saying, “Many of you are probably thinking … probably worried … looking for answers.”
Obama, you’re a communication genius, but nobody’s perfect. Repeat after me: Nobody in your audience thinks of themselves as a “you all.” They think of themselves as “me,” and occasionally as “we.” So tell them: “You are probably thinking … worried … looking for answers.” Or say, "We are thinking, worried, looking." But not "you all," which turns you into an elite answer man and your fellow citizens into a kindergarten classroom.
And as for McCain … Jerry Tarver used to talk about a speaker "so pompous, he could walk out and say 'good morning,' and he seemed to be taking credit for it."
And so it is with McCain, who after every promise to "my friends," smiles like a Cheshire cat, as if the capital gains tax cut he proposed is a personal favor, as if it's coming out of his own pocket.
If I were a speech coach, I'd use these amazingly stubborn screw-ups to illustrate that even the most polished speakers can get much better.
But I'm not a speech coach, but instead, a sage observer of the human condition. And so my observation is that it's impossible to hide our character flaws over the long haul, and the best we can hope for is that people forgive us.