Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Messaging and tone cut both ways for the GOP and the President

That the President delivered his remarks after the G20 meeting was indeed a missed opportunity to demonstrate world leadership.  Immediately after his vigorous defense of his strategies, he was hit for his “tone”, not for the substance of his strategy..  The problem is that the GOP does have a tone that is politically smart, but strategically empty. The President has a substantive strategy, but it is politically deficient. Both parties need to retool and show what they would do or are doing otherwise, or pointing blaming fingers.

Here is the GOP  unspoken platform so far: “ Even if the President has stated his strategy, we will  deny he has any.   We should be fearful, resent foreigners because of their religion or their language or their color of their skin, and always criticize any Presidential action whatever it is.  Instead, let us wave the American flag and threaten action, whether it worked in the past  or not or whether or not the US has the political will or ability to carry it out.”  That may be politically smart, but it does nothing to show a better ability to solve the issue they identified,  demonstrate leadership ability,  or are in touch with reality.

 If the GOP proposes more of what the administration is already doing, then they have admitted the President’s strategy is correct but he needs just to do more of it and execute it better.   If they demand the US take  world leadership, then they should not limit his ability to strike diplomatic and military alliances, even with Russia or Iran,Turkey, and NATO. The President should not be criticized for taking advantage of an opportunity.  ISIS has given him a gift, since it has given countries previously unwilling to put ISIS at the top of their enemy list, to change their priorities. ISIS may have goaded the bulls to their detriment with their having been behind terrorist attacks in Ankara,Turkey,  the Russian passenger plane,  or Paris. 

Here is the President’s  spoken and unspoken platform so far: “ I cannot reassure you that we can doing anything to assuage your fears  It is hard to combat a bomber wearing a vest;  it is going to take years for whatever I am doing to work” .  That  message is bad politics, but it may be realistic strategy.

The President  should reassure the fearful public that he is understanding their fears in the wake of the Paris attacks  and is taking  additional steps immediately  even if it is already being done , has been done, or  already is his part of his strategy. He should put his message in clear  bullet points  of positive statements.  He should not put it in context of answering GOP criticisms or challenging them.  He has done that enough. Leave that up to others in the future.. 

For example, while citing successes when the public only sees failure, say he will delay admitting Syrian refugees for a year and up our vetting game by asking for more funding and focus,  and that is in effect what is being done anyway. If he agrees with carving up safe havens  for refugees near Syria, he talks about how he would do that. Instead of touting token increase in special ops, in Syria and Iraq,  he should underline the total of special ops already involved now , what their engagement rules are, and  say we will send more, even if he had it in plans anyway. Instead of saying we have shadowed x number of Homeland Security’s identified suspected domestic terrorists, and stopped x number of plots,  he should say we are increasing manpower and techniques to disrupt or hack their communications,  even though that is his current policy on the date of the statement. 

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