Monday, July 26, 2010

Pawlenty reading the stage directions on the class issue

I've made no attempt to hide the fact that Tim Pawlenty is my early favorite for President in 2012, but this statement gives me pause.

Weekly Standard:

But in the end, Pawlenty said, there won't be much difference between GOP presidential candidates on the issues. He said it's important to have a presidential candidate who doesn't live up to the stereotype that Republicans are "all CEOs" who "play polo on the weekends." Pawlenty made the case that his background as the son of a truck driver who worked his way through college helps him reach out to working class voters, who are turned off by "country club elitists."

"In the end, there’s going to be five, ten, twelve candidates standing on the stage who, at least for now, all look kind of the same... And they’re going to say about the same thing" on the issues, he said. "But the real question’s going to be, as to tone and face and credibility, who is best situated to open the door to people that are not yet Republicans? To say, we understand what you’re going through and we can make a connection with you in ways that have some credibility?"

The thing is, there's quite a bit of truth to this assessment.  It's part of the reason I think Pawlenty has a decent shot at the Presidency.  However, I really don't think a candidate should be saying those things in quite that way.

Reading this reminded me of a recent National Review piece written by Rob Long that appeared in the July 5th issue.  It begins:
Rule One of great acting is, Do not read the stage directions.

You don’t, for instance, wrap up Hamlet’s big Act Two soliloquy — “ . . . the play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King” — and then say “Exit.”

Years ago, during the George H. W. Bush administration, public-opinion surveys began to register a troubling trend for a president campaigning for reelection: More and more people felt that Bush just didn’t care about people’s suffering during the (fairly shallow) recession of the early 1990s.

You’ve got to send them the message that you care, they told him. So, dutifully, in his next big public outing, he tried to send the message to the voters that he cared. He wound up a boilerplate stump speech by declaring, with as much passion as he could muster, “Message: I care!”

No, no, Mr. President, you could imagine his advisers saying. The “message” part is for us, it’s an internal thing. You’re supposed to give them the message that you care. By showing that you care.

There's a fine line here.  Be cautious, Governor Pawlenty.

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