Can President Barack Obama’s ability to hold an impressive town hall meeting in spots throughout the world become a valuable international-clout producing tool? It’s far too early to judge that.

But just as in the case of his town hall meetings in the United States, his huddle yesterday with Turkish students was again framed in an advantageous setting where he engaged those in the audience and used the setting and its media coverage to address a larger audience. In this case: Turkey and the Muslim world. Among other things, he discussed how Turkey and the U.S. have mutual interests and he defended the U.S. image.

His formula was now familiar: an opening statement (again for the room but also for the news media and regional audience) and then questions from the crowd. Here’s the video of the event where he talked about pursuing “a new partnership” and the importance of young people in the early 21st century. He also addresses critics who called him idealistic an naive for his stance on nuclear disarmament and a Middle East peace. Obama’s college professor past was evident. In this kind of setting Obama’s strength isn’t appearing charismatic (he doesn’t bowl you over) but being acutely engaged and informed — more like a popular college prof than a spellbinder.

If you listen closely, one of his main themes is how a lot of the change he seeks to bring about will be done steadily, but incrementally. Here’s the complete video:

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Here’s a transcript of the town hall meeting.

Also read our earlier post on Obama’s trip to Turkey.

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice