Tag Archive: Paul Ryan

The thankless job of responding to the State of the Union address

Many Americans remember the awkward response that Louisiana Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal gave to President Obama‘s 2009 State of the Union address as shown in the video above. Jindal looked like he was about to give a tour of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion rather than someone who might occupy the White House. Some folks even called Jindal “Kenneth the Page.” But Jindal is not the only member of the opposing party who looked awful giving a response to a president’s State of the Union speech.

Four debate pointers for President Obama

With the second Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Willard Mitt Romney around the corner and the third debate just six days later, President Obama should follow these four time-tested principles of successful political communication to gain the debate advantage:

The One Thing Democrats Should be Saying but Aren’t

At the Republican National Convention and elsewhere during this election season, the Republicans’ principal attack against President Obama is that he hasn’t fixed the economy or significantly lowered the unemployment rate. The Democrats have failed effectively to call the Republicans out for not lifting a finger to work with them and with President Obama to solve these economic issues.

The story is a simple and compelling one for the Democrats, if they would only tell it:

President Obama Takes it to the Republicans

Mark the beginning of April as the time President Obama amped up his campaign rhetoric against the Republicans to a new level. First, on April 2, President Obama, as shown in the above video, turned the tables on the Republicans’ long-running charges of “judicial activism” against judges appointed by or aligned with Democrats, and said that if the conservative-controlled U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act or its health insurance mandate provision, that would be “judicial activism”.

Then, on April 3, President Obama came out swinging against Republican Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, and, by extension, the entire Republican philosophy of “trickle-down economics.” According to President Obama, the Republican plan, containing more tax cuts for the wealthy and drastic spending cuts for lower income Americans, “is thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

In both of these cases, President Obama followed Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. It was a page taken from the Republican playbook, and it may well be extremely effective.

 

With Republicans’ Help, Democrats Find their Voice

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment when the Republican Party began committing political suicide. It may have been when Republican Congressman Paul Ryan came up with a plan to end Medicare as we know it, and almost all Republicans in Congress signed onto the plan. Whatever that moment was, the Democrats have used the Republicans’ extremist overreaching to find their own voice, with considerable success. That Democratic narrative can be boiled down to the phrase “the Republicans don’t represent you, and we do.”

Karl Rove Wants to Send Republicans to Messaging “War College” on Medicare

In the wake of numerous polls showing that American voters hate the Republicans’ plan to kill Medicare as we know it and replace it with a private voucher system, Republicans are doing the only sensible thing. No, they’re not backing off their Medicare-killing policy contained in GOP Rep. Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, they’re trying to change their messaging about it.  In particular, Republican Party guru Karl Rove recently suggested that “Congressional Republicans—especially in the House—need a political war college that schools incumbents and challengers in the best way to explain, defend and attack on the issue of Medicare reform.”

You have to hand it to the Republicans — when they see their message failing, they often stick to their policy and simply make efforts to rewrite the message. Moreover, as Rove’s Wall Street Journal op-ed indicates, Republicans often treat political messaging as a “war”. It is, and at least the Republicans put up a fight rather than quickly caving.

Of course, there is a limit to the amount of lipstick that can be put on a pig, and it’s quite possible that no amount of ingenious messaging will save the Republicans from their highly unpopular Medicare-killing plan.  Nevertheless, the Republicans are going to try, and a messaging “war college” sounds like a good idea. Once again, Democrats can take some tactical political messaging lessons from the Republicans.

It’s the Hypocrisy, Stupid

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie‘s ill-fated ride to his son’s baseball game on a $2,500 per hour State Police helicopter, after saying that New Jersey can’t afford a commuter train tunnel and other important services, is the latest example of hypocrisy by politicians that hits voters like a stink bomb. Some previous examples of this kind of hypocrisy include: