Occasionally I've been invited to talk to young people who want to get into the communication game, either through speechwriting or some other avenue.
The first thing I tell them is, "What the &*%#@ are you thinking of?"
After I calm down, I tell them if they're going to try to help leaders communicate, they should look for one kind of leader, and avoid the other kind like the plague.
Some leaders think they got where they are by keeping their cards close to the vest. By waiting until the right moment and making the right move. By not activating their turn signal until the last moment so no one even knew they were trying to squeeze in.
These are leaders one doesn't want to work for.
One wants to work for leaders who think they got where they are by having good ideas and getting those ideas across to people. By listening closely and deeply to ascertain what people really mean, what they really want. By making themselves available and thus by being likable.
Barack Obama, it occurred to me last night while watching his press conference, is essentially the second kind of leader.
Yes, he airbrushes reality, he couches his answers, he stays on message, he frames the discussion, he pulls his punches, he bobs and weaves, he even umms and ahs. But you get the feeling he's doing that to keep from stepping on toes, to avoid unnecessary making commitments, to keep from making a vastly complex political situation impossible.
And you get the feeling that he knows if he really gets cornered, he's ready to put his hands up, step from behind the lectern and say, "All right, look. Here's what's really going down—in Congress, in my cabinet and in my brain."
And you get the sense that he's doing everything he can do short of saying that.
This may not be the case during his whole administration. Things may get barnacle-covered and there may be things he'll want to completely keep secret.
But last night, I felt my president was trying his level best to explain to me what's happening as he sees it, and what he's honest-to-goodness, right or wrong, trying to do about it.
You may disagree with Obama, but you can't possibly disagree with me, that Obama is the kind of leader a communicator wants to work for.