Talk Shows GOP’s PR Problem

Yesterday I was watching The Five on Fox. The discussion turned to Obama’s dismal diss of the Gettysburg Address. I don’t know why they were surprised that he didn’t take the opportunity to praise our nation’s greatest speech (especially since he loves the limelight) from our greatest president. Obama isn’t Lincoln, Lincoln wasn’t a Democrat and focusing on how we overcame the curse of slavery isn’t something Obama wants to do. Obama, if anything, likes to exacerbate the race problem.

When the topic turned to public ignorance that Lincoln was a Republican, the panel started exploring that issue. Dana Perino said she didn’t think it was important to remind Americans that Lincoln was a Republican. She said he transcended political parties and was a great American.

It made me want to scream at the TV. That is exactly the attitude that cost President George W. Bush his popularity. Bush was so honored by the office of the presidency that he didn’t want to call attention to himself and his achievements. It was transmitted down the line to Perino, who as his Press Secretary, didn’t do enough to publicize the good things that went on in his administration.

Bush understood that he was president of ALL the American people, which was often a thorn in the side of conservative Republicans. We wanted him to push through our issues. We wanted him to be more political, but he wouldn’t. We wanted him to dress down the press, but he wouldn’t. We wanted him to smack down liberals whenever he could. Trouble was, he couldn’t.

After Katrina, which was treated by the press as some kind of refusal to help fellow Americans, Bush and Republicans suffered the decline in popularity that cost us the 2006 and 2008 elections. Remember how Bush didn’t stop in New Orleans on his way to Washington because he knew it would cause too much trouble for residents and deter rescue efforts? It was the honorable thing to do, but it made for ugly p.r.

We Republicans do not toot our own horn enough. Lincoln was a Republican. He was the first Republican president. He freed the slaves and stopped that horrible practice at great cost to white Americans. It was the Democrats who persisted in racism up until Johnson realized that black votes could be bought and would boost the Democrats. There should never be any doubt in the public’s mind that Republicans – not the Democrats – helped blacks.

I hope our next candidates will start being more savvy about imagery and p.r. We know we are on the right side of the issues for Americans, but they have been persuaded we are not. Time for people like Dana Perino – however nice and noble she is – to yield to those who can get the job done.

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