Presidents: "Homework” vs. "Rhetoric”

 Gipper 40

Below you will find the solution to all the country’s problems.  If you are a Republican strategist or candidate read on. However, if you are a Democratic strategist–well you probably aren’t reading this anyway. 


The single most important thing that a President does is lead and set the tone for the nation.  Rocket science right? Yet, too often they seem to forget this. Maybe it is the pressure, the pace, or the shear magnitude of all they are trying to do. Presidents can make all of the right decisions, but if they don’t lead they will fail. 

In my humble opinion the president who was the best leader in the past one hundred years was not the former President of Princeton (Wilson), not the Rhode Scholar( Clinton), nor the President of Harvard Law Review. 

No, the best leader had none of these lofty titles, he was simply known as “The Great Communicator.” Personally, I think a better description would be “The Great Motivator.” and that is what it is truly all about:  Motivating the American people to do great and wonderful things.  Motivating presidents make us proud of our heritage. They remind us of the legacy that we need to live up to. This is not a party specific trait. I believe that the next two best motivating presidents were probably FDR and JFK.

Many candidates are really good on the campaign trail. However, that is just a matter of leading a pep rally and telling the crowd what they want to hear. Most of the people in the audience like the candidate and what they stand for, or they wouldn’t be there. But if a new candidate can’t inspire those folks, and keep up the momentum and the energy while campaigning, they won’t be able to handle the pressure of the office. 


Leadership 101, states that if you are the boss, you set the tone everyday when you walk in to the office. If you walk in muttering and sputtering, ticked off at the world, everyone in your area knows that it is going to be a bad day. If the President looks all distressed, down trodden, and defeated, do you think that will boost up the Consumer Confidence Index? 

Economic markets can be largely influenced by emotions. If the consumers think that the economy is good, they will spend money. If the consumers spend money, then the economy IS good. It could almost be worth it to fudge the numbers, just to make them actually come up. Makes you wonder if that might have been done in the past? 

Now I know that “Wishing won’t always make it so” and it may sound like I am over simplifying things. Moreover, I am not advocating delusional optimism in the face of pending disaster. 

But if you remember the Reagan years, then you know how when he spoke, then you just knew everything was going to be alright.  Even when Reagan-omics part#1(the Stockman Plan) didn’t work out as planned.  He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and drove on. 

Reagan was the quintessential “rhetoric” resident, and truly gifted. His predecessor, the very intelligent and honest Jimmy Carter, was the epitome of a “homework” President.  With the best of intentions, President Carter burned the midnight oil every night wading through massive reports. They say that the lights never went off in the Oval office during the Carter and Wilson administrations. It is no wonder that Wilson almost worked himself to death.


On the flip side, word has it that in order for a report to get into the Reagan Oval office it had to be executive summarized onto two pages. That is possible an exaggeration, but the point is made. Delegate, lead and inspire.

When President Reagan said that the United States was the greatest country on the face of the earth he was so convincing, even the Soviets believed him!

Man, I miss The Gipper!

Respectfully Submitted,

Eric J. Andringa

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