While watching Rosa Brooks (of the Obama-is-the-Messiah school) and Ross talk about Obama’s amazingly bad speech on the day of the Virginia Tech killings, it occurred to me that Obama’s failure here was not simply one of poor taste and political tone-deafness.  Obama has said more times than anyone can care to remember that he wants a new kind of politics, he wants to transform the country, he wants to bring an end to cynicism and, last but not least, he thinks that a significant part of ”the problem” in Washington is the ”smallness of politics.”  Suppose for a moment that some poor fellow actually believed all this drivel and enthusiastically backed Obama’s candidacy.  What would such a person have made of a speech that was at once rather petty (score one last point against Imus!), cynical (exploiting a horrible crime to talk up your political issues) and predictable (a politician talks nonsense in the wake of a disaster)?  This would-be Obama man would probably conclude that Obama’s talk about transformation, a new kind of politics and so on (the things that were supposed to make Obama “fresh” and interesting as a candidate) was just a lot of talk and nothing else.  At the moment when Obama could have demonstrated what his new sort of politics might look like when everyone was paying attention he retreated to the comfort of boilerplate rhetoric, tired point-scoring and attempting to manipulate human suffering for his own purposes on the day of the killings itself.  Perhaps no one really believed all his talk about transformation and newness and such (we can only hope), but it is a little strange that hardly anyone has noted how completely it subverts what was supposedly a core theme of his campaign.