Bush Should Take Hugh's Advice

Posted: Jan 18, 2007 9:58 AM

Hugh Hewitt's new column, Losing the (Electronic) War is spot-on.  It's something that has needed to be said for a long time. 

In many ways, when it comes to technology, the Bush Administration seems content to do what's always been done.  It's easy to argue for tradition (such as giving away your speech before it's delivered), than to start new traditions. 

But President Bush has missed an opportuntiy to create new traditions -- and to capitalize on modern technology. 

Sure, FDR could have argued in favor of "tradition" and eschewed the nascent medium of radio (in favor of live speeches) -- and Jack Kennedy could have argued that "TV had no place in political discource," or that it was, "un-presidential."  Of course, both decisions would have been foolish.  FDR's fireside chats made him very popular during the Great Depression, and Kennedy's televised debate with Nixon arguably won him the election.  (FDR and Kennedy may not be favorites of conservatives, but they were effective communicators.)

Yet President Bush -- with all the communications experts at his disposal -- has been slow to rock the boat and embrace new technology. 

Here's one simple idea: Drop the weekly radio address in favor of a YouTube address.  Sure, Ronald Reagan loved the radio address -- but that was twenty years ago.  Besides, Reagan had experience as a radio broadcaster (and FDR was his boyhood hero).  ... But times change.

If Barack Obama can use this technology to announce his candidacy, why can't the President of the United States use it to communicate?

I'm of the opinion that it is even more important for conservatives to embrace modern technology than it is for liberals.  The public associates being technologically "cutting-edge" with being hip.  When conservatives are at the foreftont of the technological revolution, it makes them more appealing to swing voters.  And (while technology is philosophically neutral), the media loves "process" stories about candidates who embrace technolgoy (at least, that's my theory).

In short, I think we've missed a golden opportunity.  The next president will no doubt change the paradigm.