The Norman Transcript

Government

October 2, 2012

Slate: Why presidents don't need to be great public speakers

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

How do you know what the public wants?

If the political scientists are right, we should stop hanging on every president's every word. That's good news for Mitt Romney. He is not a memorable orator, but it turns out that he doesn't need to be on many issues. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The average of polls shows 50 percent of the country wants the law repealed and only 40 percent does not. That's more important than all the wordsmiths in the land.

President Obama's rhetorical skills have already been downgraded in office. You could see it at his convention where he delivered a more earthbound speech. It seems like he knows that people may be a little skeptical this time around. When President Obama inevitably reinvigorates his base with rousing words during the campaign, no one should assume he will be any more effective in a second term as president.

If we want to measure a candidate's potential in office, perhaps the more important thing to measure is their ability to read the public. It's only with an understanding of what the public wants that they can shape public views. Candidates speak as if they can intuit the deepest wishes of the public, but where does this understanding come from? They attend rallies made up only of their supporters and they never admit to reading public-opinion polls. Democrats say they don't watch Fox news and Republicans don't wake up to the New York Times.

If voters aren't with a president on a specific issue, all is not lost. Their general disposition toward their leader — whether they think he has their interests at heart — still offers something. If they do trust that he has their back, people might be more predisposed to hear him when, as president, he tries to argue that he has plans or ideas that may first strike them as unappealing. This is an area where Mitt Romney has lots of work to do. When pollsters ask voters which candidate they think cares more about average people, Obama beats Romney regularly by 20 percentage points or more.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Government
  • Moore City Council paves way for Sam’s Club location

    MOORE — The Moore City Council approved a $5 million bond Tuesday to be repaid with sales tax and utility revenues. “A good amount of street improvements needs to be done,” Moore City Manager Steve Eddy said. “This will be paid for with ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Another brick in the Wal-Mart

    Norman could soon have five Wal-Mart stores, including three supercenters and two neighborhood markets. A proposal for the newest supercenter will come before the Norman City Council at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday via a request for a zoning change on ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Local group celebrates ruling

    A local group, Mothers of Many, expressed its elation with Friday’s 10th Circuit Court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s state ban on same-sex marriage....

    July 20, 2014

  • Leftover loss still hurting

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Cities, counties and school districts remain frozen out of a federal program that has sent millions of dollars worth of trenchers, trailers, semis, bulldozers, boats and forklifts and other equipment over the years....

    July 19, 2014

  • City and state briefs

    Transportation needs listed The White House released a new report this week from the Council of Economic Advisers and National Economic Council on the long-term economic benefits of transportation investment and why conditions in the ...

    July 17, 2014

  • Griffin Park 6 Proposal requests improving, expanding youth sports facilities

    Improving and expanding Norman’s youth sports facilities will generate revenue in tourism dollars, say advocates of Norman Forward, a grassroots initiative launched last week. The package proposed by Norman business leaders and community ...

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Norman sales tax slump not an indicator for FYE 2015

    Norman sales tax collections were disappointingly low this month, kicking off the new fiscal year below budget. The Oklahoma Tax Commission deposited $5,439,309 in sales tax receipts for Norman on July 9. The Public Safety Sales Tax ...

    July 11, 2014

  • Library tops city’s list of desired amenity

    Businessman Mike Fowler promised to lead Norman forward during his inaugural speech as the incoming Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors chairman this year. Months before that declaration, however, Fowler and a group of Norman ...

    July 11, 2014

  • City briefs

    Inaugural 2014 Rookie Camp at Whittier Recreation Center The Inaugural 2014 Rookie Camp for ages 4-7 will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday at the Whittier Recreation Center, 2000 W. Brooks St....

    July 11, 2014

  • Legacy Trails expected to be regional draw to TIF retail district

    The Norman City Council approved a Business Improvement District on Tuesday to pay for maintenance of Legacy Park. The park is expected to be a regional draw, enhancing the University North Park retail area and bringing people to the area ...

    July 9, 2014