One of the core learning points that we all try to instill in our clients is the need for authenticity. In business this quality should underpin everything that you do. It is even more important in Politics.
If you look the word up in the dictionary the definition is as follows:
Authenticity: The quality of being believable or trustworthy
Critics of all stripes are piling on to the Romney campaign at the moment because of a series of Gaffes that have kept the economy off the front page and Romney’s perceived lack of credibility on it. This credibility issue is starting to eat away at the confidence of the electorate as the media focuses incessantly on whether Mr. Romney means what he says. Some commentators have noted that he is a victim of a deeply polarized nation where in order to get the nomination he has had to take positions he does not agree with. During the primary debates he had to take a hard line on most issues in order to win the support of a deeply suspicious base. The pivot towards the middle ground that his campaign is trying to make is almost impossible and when he does extend an olive branch to the other side the most vocal members of his party eviscerate him. You would need to be an extremely skillful politician to navigate this daunting path.
I have talked in other blogs about Governor Romney’s lack of charisma, awkward body language and clumsy attempts to connect with voters but this week has been a master class in what not to do regarding message management.
Libya attacks – he jumped the gun in criticizing the President in his response before knowing the full facts. This made him look trigger happy and more intent on scoring political points than displaying the calm leadership qualities necessary in those situations. Strategic thinking and mature diplomacy are Presidential behaviors.
HealthCare – in an interview he talked about keeping some of the healthcare reform initiated by President Obama before having to walk back his comments after some in his party objected. Pragmatism and compromise are Presidential behaviors.
Secret video – In a secret recording from a fundraiser in Boca Raton he appeared to write off almost half the nation as victims and dependent on Government. He then had to call a press conference to explain that he had spoken inelegantly. This is a fatal mistake as this goes to the heart of his authenticity problem. Skillful politicians have an awareness that goes way beyond their current activity and are mindful of how every utterance may be used by the opposition. A rule of thumb would be to always imagine that the media are watching…
These missteps, in addition to others are beginning to paint a picture of a candidate not ready for primetime. To make matters worse, this week Republican candidates in close senate races are starting to distance themselves from Mr. Romney. All of this leaves him in a very lonely place.
All this has had the GOP dreaming of Ronald Reagan. I wonder if he would be behind in the race at this time if he were running instead of Romney? There is no doubt he would do a better job as he was an extremely skillful communicator but then again, he never had these obstacles in 1980!