It’s hard to judge as of yet whether he has the charisma to succeed at a higher level. He certainly has a charm about him that is very effective at diffusing partisan reactions.

We will watch his career with great interest.

(Note: I’m not comparing him to Palpatine or Vader. I just like the line.)

…and yet it’s the highest grossing film of all time. James Cameron is apparently some sort of genius at promoting stuff. I have to say it is a remarkably lame movie, yet somehow he has convinced everyone to go see the thing. He ought to be a marketer, not a filmmaker. 

As I write this, I see Avatar ranks #41 on the IMDb Top 250 movies list. This is insane. It’s one spot ahead of Lawrence of Arabia? Two spots ahead of Terminator 2, which Cameron made before he forgot everything he knew about movie making?

Madness. Madness. (It’s undeservedly ahead of that movie, too.) 

For that matter, what was something memorable that somebody said at a SOTU address?

Yeah, I can’t think of any either.

So, Obama certainly hasn’t got much in the way expectations to beat. I recommend he keep it short–about twenty minutes should do it–and make it consist solely of listing his accomplishments of the past year, and wind down by repeating a memorable catchphrase, such as: “Yes, we did.” There needs to be much fist-shaking and voice-raising while saying this phrase.

Arrogant? Yes. Divisive? Yes. But complete confidence in himself is what he needs to project. Obama is charismatic enough to talk people into agreeing with him if he seems sure of what he’s saying.

He won’t do this, I’m sure. He’ll probably try something bipartisan and conciliatory. Something like: “Well, this year sucked, and I know you’re all unhappy about it. In the coming year, I’ll reach across the aisle to work with Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to pass bipartisan yadda yadda yadda.”

Oh, well.

This is a story of trying. It is a story of passion, and a story of tragedy. 

It is a story of a man. A man who couldn’t resist the urge to come back for one last go-round in his field. A man who tried to relive the old days, and could never do it. A man who would go back to his ranch, and say he was done, and then think to himself “Hell, I could do it again.” A man who, even with better resources, could never quite recapture the magic that enraptured his loyal fans. And in the end, he drove them away, because he could not quit. 

And it is two men, but it is one story.

For background:

In his Monday Morning Quarterback column today, SI’s Peter King says: “I think [Favre]’s the most charismatic and interesting player I’ve covered.” I think he’s right. Favre doesn’t really seem to have it in press conferences interviews, but if you watch footage of him in the locker room or on the sidelines, you can still see it come through.

This charisma also probably explains why Favre has often been excused by sportswriters, fans and even coaches and GMs for the various disasters he has been responsible for on the field. There was less of it this time, but when Favre threw the game away to the Giants in the NFC Championship game two years ago, the general feeling wasn’t “He let his team down” but rather “Oh, what a terrible way to end his career.” (Everyone foolishly figured it was the end of his career.)

Charisma is, obviously, an important quality for a quarterback, just like it is for any leader. Sadly, unlike elections, football games cannot be won solely by the presence of a charismatic leader. If they could, Eli Manning’s team would never have beaten Tom Brady’s team

Paul Krugman writes

“Suppose, for example, that Congress took the advice of those who want to ban insurance discrimination on the basis of medical history, and stopped there. What would happen next? The answer, as any health care economist will tell you, is that if Congress didn’t simultaneously require that healthy people buy insurance, there would be a “death spiral”: healthier Americans would choose not to buy insurance, leading to high premiums for those who remain, driving out more people, and so on.”

If this went on long enough, eventually it would mean no one would have health insurance. It would destroy the health insurance industry. They’d come asking for a bailout. The government could be forced to take them over. The government would now control health insurance. It would be impossible to abolish this program once created, so it would be a de-facto public option, even once the industry recovered . Ta-Da!

As John Hodgman would say, you’re welcome.