Republicans and Democrats agree that these are difficult times: we have a stagnant economy, a dysfunctional government, and a war on terror to wage. We agree that we need a great leader. Is President Obama one? Republicans and Democrats also happen to agree that he simply is not. For this critical moment in history, the consensus is that he simply will not suffice.
Great leaders have both the vision and the ability to motivate themselves and others to achieve difficult tasks. President Obama, on the other hand, won’t stop talking, putting in more media time than any president in history, giving speech after speech and interview after interview. He’s trying simply to wear down the American people – particularly those in swing states – and coax them into agreeing with him against their better instincts. When they do not buy what he is selling, he says that he hasn’t done enough to sell it to them—quite the opposite of the problem.
When covering Republican candidates, the media has predictably focused on trivialities: Rick Perry’s hair, Newt Gingrich’s stomach, Jon Huntsman’s daughters, rather than on leadership ability. The media will do anything to escape discussing ideas. Ideas are boring, and the American people aren’t smart enough to discuss them, the media seem to believe. If this is true, the race for the highest and most important office on earth then becomes a human interest story.
In a 1958 interview with Mike Wallace, Aldous Huxley predicted that the coming age of electoral politics would be increasingly focused on image, on aesthetics, on style, rather than substance. With the advent of television and the science of psychology, he said,v marketing and public relations would progress cumulatively, as sciences do, and people would become increasingly gullible. Two years later, Kennedy famously beat Nixon to those who watched on television, and lost to those listening on the radio, and Huxley was to be proven right every four years.
If personality had been so heavily weighted in selecting our great leaders of the past, America would have missed out on some of its greatest leaders. George Washington was one of the worst public speakers in America at the time he led the American Revolution and became president. Thomas Jefferson only gave two speeches in his entire presidency: at his inaugurations.
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