By Michael Reagan
June 12, 2008
The same is true of John McCain. His wartime heroism and whatever he's accomplished in the United States Senate fades almost into obscurity because he is seen -- and joked about -- as a politician who, despite his boast of being a straight talker, is seen as a man who mumbles his way through the verbal thickets.
You can't make a point if you can't articulate it in the strongest and clearest way possible.
People remember a president who communicates. You may hate his message but you have no trouble absorbing it when Barack Obama speaks. He's like the Pied Piper -- he'll lead you off a cliff, but while he's doing it there's no doubt that he can put two words together, finish a sentence, and sound as if he means what he says and has enough fiery rhetoric in his verbal arsenal to keep you marching behind him on the way to the cliff's edge. He's like a Venus's-flytrap -- you think you're smelling roses when no matter how sweet the odor, it is really poison gas.
He's a communicator, not a mumbler.
You don't get that from John McCain. The faithful old Republican guard may understand him and vote for him, but if you're looking for new recruits to cross over, your candidate has to at least sound as if he knows what he's talking about on matters other than the Iraq war.
He has to lead, and he can't just sit back and decide he is going to play this really nice guy with nary a mean word to mumble about his opponent, while his opponent has no intention of playing nice.
The Republican Party is looking for a real leader, not a Dr. Phil who can see the bright side of a tornado.
The last leader Republicans had was Newt Gingrich. You may not have liked him but you always knew damn well where he stood. He never equivocated, and you could hear and understand everything he said. And he led his party to an astonishing victory in 1994.
Barack Obama, with all of his manifest faults and empty promises and outright misstatements of the facts, is at least leading the troops. And that's exactly what John McCain is not doing, and what he has to do if he wants to win in November.
He is deluding himself by thinking he can sit on his campaign bus and make nice with his pals in the media who no longer worship at his feet, having found a new idol in Barack Obama.
He needs to show leadership instead of musing about how he was once a prisoner of war who heroically resisted his brutal captors, because many of the people who'll vote in November were not even alive during the war in Vietnam. To them it's ancient history, They want to hear solutions to the gas-price crisis, for example, not recollections of a past they didn't share.
He can't gain any points recalling the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter because there are lots of people out there who at best only vaguely know that Carter was once president or who have any idea of what he did when in the White House.
When he talks about the Vietnam war, or Jimmy Carter, McCain has to explain what he's talking about, and the American people have little interest or patience in matters that have to be explained.
If something has to be explained, it's something you shouldn't talk about.
McCain doesn't seem to realize that what the public perceives is reality. In politics, perception and reality are the same. True of not, the perception is that George Bush hasn't led. The reality is that we have no leadership and we're hungry for a leader.
At this point in time, Barack Obama may be leading us off a cliff, but at least he's whistling the tune the voters want to hear.
John McCain needs to find his tune, and then sing it loud and clear. He can't mumble his away into the White House.
Look for Mike's new book "Twice Adopted". Order autographed books at www.reagan.com
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