My clients often ask me the difference between presence and gravitas and after much pondering I have the clearest example so far – her name is Sarah Palin! She sprang to mind because Fox News have decided that she is not the right fit in this post election environment. I saw the video above and realised that if Fox wanted to be taken a little bit more seriously they needed to hear from women of stature not ridicule.
When she first came to national and indeed international attention, I recall the unease in liberal circles about this new threat, the swelling of Republican hearts – could this be a woman who represents the nation? She was a complete departure from the old white man in a suit that was very much the brand of the GOP. Oh how they hoped. And then she opened her mouth, and the rest is history…
To be fair her first speech was a good one. Where she failed was her unscripted interviews full of inappropriate phrases, mangling of words and folksy charm gone wrong. To be a news pundit without a good knowledge of current affairs, a grasp of what you’re saying, and the ability to effectively argue without resorting to childish comments is surely quite key. This is the politician who’s talked about America’s North Korean allies. Who couldn’t name any newspapers or magazines she might read to keep up-to-date or an important case brought before the Supreme Court. Palin is a woman with a strong personal brand and a huge amount of presence but almost no meaningful interpersonal skills, finesse, or emotional intelligence – thus no gravitas.
I actually find her rise disturbing. TV madmen like Glen Beck are bizarre but great fun to watch and after all its just showbiz but Sarah Palin could have been President. Without going out on too much of a limb I like my Presidents to be intellectual or at least cleverer than me, have a clear grasp of the facts, be empathetic to all areas of society , be calm under pressure and to be generally wise – in other words they need to have gravitas!