Just Above Sunset
June 13, 2004 - Capturing lightning in a bottle - The Reagan Magic Formula
Do the Democrats need their own Ronald Reagan? Ezra Klein has some thoughts on that:
Much is made of Reagan’s intelligence, or lack thereof.
What’s lost in the constant condescension is that simplicity can be a weapon and complexity a handicap. While we revel in politicians who can easily rattle off budgetary minutiae, that sort
of speech turns off most listeners. So while our great orators let their rhetoric
soar around the specific, hopscotching from fact to argument to evidence; his built up from the general, consciously converting
oversimplifications into policy statements. While studies back us up on welfare,
his invocation of the welfare queen with her Cadillac was a much stronger retort than our Brookings report. It’s less honest but more effective, a devil’s trade we rarely make.
So, let’s see here.
Keep it powerful AND keep it simple-minded. The Reagan magic.
Bush only has the simple-minded part down pat. The other half is missing – something to say.
Kerry has much too say. And says it with nuance and detail – that man just cannot keep it simple, because
it never is simple. But, damn, it’s dull.
Just read this story about the Texas Republican Party. Their convention began with prayers and invocations,
as any religious gathering might do. One pastor who spoke to the group said the
following: "Give us Christians in America who are more wholehearted, more committed and more militant for you and your
kingdom than any fanatical Islamic terrorists are for death and destruction. I
want to be one of those Christians." Then [he] read the platform, proposing, among other things, "new restrictions on
lawsuits brought over exposure to asbestos" and making it a felony for anyone to perform a marriage for a same-sex
couple. If you want to know why someone who loved Ronald Reagan can no longer
support the Republican Party, then the extremism of George W. Bush's own party
in his home state is Exhibit A.
Things are never so simple.
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