I’ve been a reporter/broadcaster/author /anchor for a total of 54 years. That doesn’t make be wiser than anyone else. But there are instincts I have when I watch politicians. That’s because I’ve watched politicians up close and from a distance for a long time. As the boy said in the movie, “I see things.” And so during this election season, I thought I would share some of my insights with you. Are they exactly on target? Probably not. But they are my instincts.
First, Mitt Romney. His greatest asset is his personal drive for success. His biggest weakness? He fails to see how others perceive him. If he understood that weakness early on, he probably would have been in the driver’s seat by now. But he doesn’t get it. And all the power and money and family love that he has can’t change the perception that he “seems” out of touch. Now, maybe he really isn’t, but he seems that way. I remember the first George Bush not understanding what a bar code was, or his most amazing bad moment – holding a strange news conference on the first Iraqi war. Four hundred thousand troops were massing in the Kuwaiti desert, and George Bush was holding a news conference from the seat of a golf cart in Maine. Bad picture. That was the beginning of the electoral end for him. What an irony that a true military hero, a guy who fought his guts out for America, didn’t understand what a bad picture that was.
Romney could still recover, but he has a lot of work to do. I’m told that when you get to know him, he’s a terrific man. But has he allowed us, the voters, in, to see what he’s really all about?
Barack Obama has challenges. It is common knowledge that he didn’t do a terrific job developing relationships with the Congress. It’s bad enough that America has sent some obstructionists to serve in the Congress. I mean, Jim DeMint is the Senator from hell. He politically kills off fellow Republicans, and attacks and tries to defeat anyone who stands in his way. You get the feeling that DeMint would have been happy to know Stalin, who killed off his enemies in a different way. While DeMint practices his own form of McCarthyism, there are some really fine Republicans in Congress. The President should have built relationships from the beginning. But he didn’t. So the so-called Tea Party gang got their way. And the lackluster Senate Democratic leadership wasn’t exactly an asset. But in another way, The President does relate to real people in a way that few politicians in our time have. That’s probably why he’s the leader in this election.
Chris Christie is an interesting one. He’s a talented man who has a hard time holding his ambitions in check. He went on national TV Sunday and predicted that Mitt Romney would win the first debate and turn his campaign around. That was not what the Romney folks wanted. They wanted him to offer a view of low expectations. Christie rarely stays on script. That’s why he’s popular. But he totally missed the point in his content during the Convention speech, which was more about him than Romney. Message to Chris Christie – Self promotion is transparent. Less is more. The same thing with bluster. Less is more. Otherwise, the bluster seems like a broken record. I can say “broken record” in 2012 because vinyl is back.
The most interesting politician of our time, nationally, is Joe Biden. Sure, he gets off track once in a while, but of all of our national figures, he is truly, the most realistic and humanistic. The herd-hungry press likes to beat him up, when he offers up a gaffe here or there. But Joe Biden has passion, understanding and a love of people that should be emulated by all politicians.