Obama sings Al Green. How did he do?

Appearing at the Apollo Theater in New York Thursday night, President Obama sings Al Green classic 'Let's Stay Together.' He sounded good, but he's no Herman Cain.

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP
President Obama sings Al Green before speaking at a campaign event, Thursday, at the Apollo Theatre in New York.

President Obama sang an Al Green song at a fundraiser Thursday night, in case you haven’t heard. Well, “sang a song” might be exaggerating – he crooned a few words, really. He was standing on stage at the Apollo Theater in New York thanking folks for coming when he swiveled into the Green classic “Let’s Stay Together.”

“Ahhhhm ... so in love with you,” went the leader of what used to be called the Free World.

Then he grinned and said, “Those guys didn’t think I would do it.”

He did not specify who “those guys” were, at least not on the video made public so far. Perhaps he was referring to Spike Lee and his wife, who earlier in the evening had hosted a dinner for Obama and donors willing to part with upwards of $35,000 per ticket in order to get close to the president.

How did he do? He sounded good, but the sample size was small, only a line or two. We’ll say this: he’s no Herman Cain. Now there’s a (former) presidential aspirant with pipes! Here’s a Cain performance from the National Press Club last fall.

Now comes the fun part: we pretend to overanalyze the political implications of this act in order to suck out its spontaneity and refill it with the sawdust stuffing of punditry.  

Clearly, Obama was trying to send a message to his base with his choice of song. A fundraiser? The song, “Let’s Stay Together?” He’s pleading with his core liberal supporters to remain faithful and energized in the coming election even though he has not delivered all they want.

Yet this approach shows his political weakness. It was cool, analytic, and not passionate enough. Why didn’t he make a more forceful choice, such as Green’s “You Ought to Be With Me?” That would have showed more fire in the belly for the coming campaign. Come to think of it, he could have sung Green’s “Full of Fire.” That would have gotten the message across.

What will the GOP do? By not finishing a lyric, Obama has opened himself to criticism that he is unable to complete important tasks, such as reviving the economy. Whoever the Republican nominee is they may well exploit this weakness in the fall.

Remember, we’re making this up – don’t send us emails about how we’re living up to Newt Gingrich’s vision of the news media. If you’ve got other suggestions for songs the president should have tried, please post them in comments. As for ourselves, we’ve gone about as far with this as Pundit Association guidelines allow. Enjoy the show.

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