Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Mediocre Communicators

After reading Michelle Malkin's blow-by-blow of Wednesday's debate, it seems blindingly obvious Mitt Romney should fire whoever he's paying to write his talking points or coach him in his communications -- or whatever he's paying them to do -- because the governor's getting royally ripped off.

Governor, stop telling people you were an executive in the "real economy."

We got that already, OK? We're not small children to whom you must repeat things.

Governor, you would serve your cause better if you would try discussing the economy (and government's burdensome meddling in the economy) in a factual, concrete way. Rattle off some numbers and statistics, talk about the value of capital investment in job creation, talk in specific, anecdotal ways about how regulation and taxation drive out investment, thereby leading to job losses, to wit:

"When I was governor, Major International Corporation X was considering a new plant in the United States. But I couldn't get the tax-and-spend liberals in the Massachusetts legislature to reduce Burdensome Tax A, and we have a real problem with State Regulatory Policy B, because of the powerful environmentalist lobby in our state.
"We tried our best to get that plant for Massachusetts, to create jobs for our workers, but eventually, the company built their plant in Alabama, where they don't have those kinds of taxes and regulations. So I know first-hand how Big Government causes us to lose jobs."

In other words, don't tell the people "This is who I am." That sounds like you're just bragging.

Instead, talk in a way that demonstrates superior knowledge: "This is what I know."

Reagan was a master of this -- listen to the part of his 1964 "Time for Choosing" speech where he's talking about LBJ's policies and about budgets and spending and taxes in very specific ways.
Facts, facts, facts. Don't talk about yourself, talk about the issues.

It's the damnedest irony in the world: The party made great by the Great Communicator is in decline because nowadays Republicans can't seem to master the basics of being even a Fairly Decent Communicator, and the GOP's speechwriting teams seem to be composed entirely of Michael Gerson clones ...


Oops. Sorry. Nodded off at the mere mention of Gerson. Bad habit.

Hey, now that I'm awake again, how about some truly bold suggestions:

Would some Republican please, for the love of God, try to sneak in an informed reference to Mises or Hayek or Friedman? I mean, Bastiat might be asking a bit much, but couldn't you at least give a coded signal to the economically literate that you understand how markets work?

How I yearn to hear some Republican candidate at least mention the name of an author and a book (the Bible doesn't count, Pastor Huckabee), thus to signify to the world at large that not all conservatives are anti-intellectual troglodytes.

Just imagine the thrill if, while discussing terrorism, a Republican presidential candidate adroitly referenced Nonie Darwish or Robert Spencer or Ibn Warraq. Wouldn't that be totally awesome? "A Republican! Who reads books!"

It's probably too much to hope for, I know.

For some reason, the political system now seems to favor candidates who are anti-book. The last Republican I ever heard name an author in public was Newt Gingrich. And while the conservative movement has some of the greatest communicators on the planet -- e.g, Rush Limbaugh -- it's as if nobody anywhere near a campaign headquarters ever thinks of making a call:
"Hey, you think maybe our guy could come down to Florida some Saturday evening, have a brewski or two with El Rushbo, smoke some good cigars, and try to figure out how to get our message across better?"
Limbaugh is a brilliant phrasemaker, a master of rhetorical combat, a "highly-trained broadcast professional," as he often reminds his listeners, and yet it doesn't seem his advice is sought out by GOP operatives.

For want of a nail ...

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