Friday, October 30, 2009

Portman et al: Bush, the invisible ex-prez

AFTER FOUR recent visits to Akron stages by Republicans from hither and yon, may we now conclude that the story line is firmly in place for the November 2010 elections? Merge the speakers' texts, and there are no surprises:
  • President Obama is making an outrageous mess of the economy.
  • The nation's salvation lies in cutting taxes.
  • Health care reforms will be ruinous to the greatest health care system in the world.
  • George Bush doesn'texistdoesn'texistdoesn'texist, the ex-president who isn't there.
I refer to the three earlier speakers: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Senate candidate Tom Ganley, one of the two Republicans with an eye on succeeding retiring Sen. George Voinovich, and, yesterday, the other GOP senatorial candidate, Rob Portman. From the standpoint of political harmony, it could qualify as a barbershop quartet.

Portman, former Ohio congressman and Bush's budget director who was regarded as a cabinet member with close ties to the Oval Office, reiterated much of the GOP message on how to influence people and win elections. Ohio, he said, needs a path to prosperity now that Gov. Strickland had overseen the loss of 336,000 jobs; too many Ohioans are running out of money; we've got to stop the hemorrhaging; the death tax has got to be eliminated.

Allow me to stop right there. The death tax (DT) used to be called the estate tax until the GOPers in Washington decided to change its name into something funereal to encourage us to hide our piggy banks from the IRS until long after Judgment Day. Today the DT's do not apply to 99.75 pct. of the people and allow a $3.5 million exemption - double that for a couple. Just thought I would throw that in inasmuch as I doubt there was more than one person in the audience who would be affected by a DT. On the other hand, there was a time when Bernie Madoff would have to be concerned about it. Many Wall Streeters still worry about it. Do the math, all of you exempt middle classers.

But Portman's biggest problem at his coming-out visit to he Akron Press Club in the Martin Center was not his ideology but his surprisingly flat delivery that lost the attention of some of the 90 or so guests. The largely Republican audience stocked by Summit County Chairman Alex Arshinkoff was quite subdued as he looked downward to his text and read as though he were giving a 30-minute invocation with an unbroken tone and cadence. Ok, he droned.

That's not what I've come to expect after attending two trillion political speeches over the years. Steele and Barbour, for example, appealed to the crowd to go out and help them win elections for their party. Ganley demanded a chance to sock-it-to the Democrats, Tea Party style. A couple of Republicans told me afterward that they were disappointed by Portman's delivery.

For all of the Republican condemnation of the Obama Adminstration's economic policies, there's a dynamite gamble by their candidates that the economy won't be moving upward by the next election. In short, Democrats need the economy to brighten; Republicans need it to fail. At this point, who can predict?

The Beacon Journal reported Portman's dismissive response to a question about his former Bush connection. "I'm talking about the future - how can we get out of this mess.?"

But when the campaign goes head to head next year, I would be surprised if the subject doesn't come up once or twice again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess staring down at notes is acceptable practice for public speaking for Republicans. Hey, just as long as the speech isn't displayed by using a teleprompter. That would be a socialist speaking technique.