(note: the drawing comes from a friend of mine Tim Keller who does a weekly moleskine drawing along with M. Scott Hay - check it out!)
On April 20th, a BP owned off-shore oil platform exploded and started spilling oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Since that time, millions - if not billions - of oil has spilled into the Gulf and is starting to reach the shorelines of several states along the Gulf Coast.
This should be the story. The story should be the focus on BP and the fact that maybe oil isn't such a great resource for us to rely on. However, it has turned into a daily digest of the President's 'mood.'
Is the President angry? Why isn't he more angry? Should he be angrier? He isn't showing enough emotion on this topic!
Those were just some of the comments over the past couple of months. Of course, as politicians do, they caved to some of that pressure and in an interview Obama tried to show some anger and said he wants to "know who ass to kick."
This was wrong. Obama was trying to please the wrong people. If people are more concerned about the President's mood than with the problems that we are going to have with cleaning up all of this oil, then he will fail. Seth Godin doesn't mention the President in his new post, but his point can easily be applied here.
However, Fareed Zakaria does talk about it. I have a lot of respect for Zakaria. I have talked about how his intelligence is a great asset to have when communicating your ideas. His latest article talks about how Obama caved to the media frenzy instead of focusing on having the government actually do something.
It will be interesting to see tomorrow what President Obama says in his Presidential Address to the nation. I don't care much about his emotion, and I think the media has gone overboard with their analysis, but I do understand the need for emotion.
If you want to be a great communicator, you need Pathos. You need to have emotional proof. The audience needs to believe you and want to listen to you. Obama has failed in this respect regarding the oil spill - and while I think we should be focusing more on BP and what they are going to do to fix this problem - Obama does need to convey a strong message on Tuesday.
If the past few months doesn't teach you anything else, you should learn that communication can change the way people think about something and what they focus on.