George Bush is not the world's best debater or smoothest talker. We all love a great speech, a witty debate, a clever comeback. But what we desire ? what we need in this age of uncertainty ? is a leader who lives his faith, adheres to core principles and remains steadfast in the face of adversity.
The individual words George Bush uses are not always smoothly delivered, but they reflect the stuff he is made of. Words like "duty," "resolve," "strength," "persevere," "vision" and "faith" repeatedly pop up when he is asked questions about his policies. And George Bush's record shows that he doesn't just use the words to get votes ... he demonstrates those values in his everyday life and makes them the core of his policies.
George Bush dares to "protect the institution of marriage," dares to take measures to "create a culture of life" and dares to risk all the power and prestige of his office in order to "promote freedom around the world." But here's the rub: To him, it's not a dare at all. It's just what he believes, so he does it.
The liberal wing of the Democratic Party, which has long dominated its leadership, seems stunned that a clear majority of Americans chose to re-elect a president that exudes courage, confidence and a faith that is so easily identifiable. They are scratching their heads at the polls which reveal that the issue that mattered most to voters in this election was not the economy, or security ? but moral values.
But so far, the strategists are missing the point. Liberal Sen. Chris Dodd had this to say the day after the American people rejected his party and his candidate, "We must think long and hard about what happened yesterday. We were on the right side on the issues ... but we lost our ability to connect to people on values. We have to get that back."
Someone needs to tell the senator that the values one believes in and the positions on issues one takes are inextricably interwoven. If the positions you take on issues are contrary to the values of the people, you will always find it difficult to "connect" with them.
David Broder of the Washington Post had this to say about his many discussions with Democrats the day after the election: "Time and again, Democrats' comments yesterday circled back to the need to restore the language of values to the party's rhetoric and to try to reconnect with people of faith."
As I have written before, gaining support from people of faith doesn't come from using the language of faith or values; it's about believing in and incorporating those values into your policies. People of strong faith will not be duped ? they know when a candidate cares more about the clever use of words than he does about their values.
"Life is bigger than politics." Indeed.