Millions of people scoff at it. Millions deride it. People who do it are often a bit ashamed of admitting same. So they camoflage it with different names. Some call it “marketing,” for instance. When colleges do it they call it “development” or “institutional advancement.” They think this keeps their hands clean.
Few of our schools teach it - really teach it. And our leaders desperately need it. President Obama needs it big time.
“It” is, simply, the power of persuasion. Selling. That terrible thing that car dealers do.
Maybe you want to tell me our president does have the power of persuasion. He does know how to sell. He got elected, didn’t he?
Well, then, tell me please why a majority of the people of this country do not buy his “stimulus package”? He is on his honeymoon. During these euphoric weeks following his annointment, he should be able to sell us coal and call it chocolate.
He failed to. Pollsters tell us the majority of the public is simply not behind this package. The President failed to sell it to the American people.
He failed to sell it to members of Congress. This is supposed to be the greatest bill ever passed by Congress. Passed because calamity awaits us if we fail to pass it. Yet he failed to persuade Republicans to go for it.
He tried. He lunched with them. He lectured them. He lectured us all on the road, at town hall meetings. He tried during press conferences. His tactics did not work. He did a poor job of selling. He totally ignored the basics of persuasion.
Methinks he went to the George Bush School of Selling. (Which has apparently never scheduled a class.)
George Bush sent something like 18 messages to Congress to get them to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bush never sold them on the idea. They never bought it. If he had made the sale, our economy would not have imploded as it did. For it was the “stupid mortgages” that created the housing bubble. More than any other thing, they did. It was the “stupid mortgages” that collapsed the housing and banking and investment system. The “stupid mortgages” were Fannie and Freddie’s stock-in-trade.
George Bush learned his selling techniques from his father. The lesson took three nanoseconds. That is how much his dad had to offer.
And so, unfortunately, our current president is joining a tradition some presidents have created.
If only he would take lessons from Bill Clinton. Clinton is a master salesman. He squirms out of predicaments by selling us the idea he is innocent. We see corruption and he persuades us it is just a misunderstanding. He has sold the idea of giving money to his museum, to the tune of half a billion bucks. He sold a few ideas to Monica, among many other women.
He also did a great job of selling his ideas to the public. And often to Congress.
Ronald Reagan was a master salesman. When he could not get Congress to go along with his ideas, he went around them. He went directly to the public and sold them on those ideas. They bought them and put pressure on Congress to come around to Reagan’s way of thinking.
There are any number of great persuaders in politics. Dick Morris, hired gun, is one. James Carville and his wife, hired guns, are salespeople. There are experts within the parties that fashion the Democtratic and Republican messages.
The candidates use those messages when they go campaigning. However, sometimes they have to be themselves. They have to answer questions they did not expect - at a press conference. Or at a town meeting. They have to lead, to lay out the sales campaign for something like this stimulus package. They have to enunciate the sales message.
At those times the leaders need to sell, to persuade. More is the pity when they fail at it.
From Tom... as in Morgan.
For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.