Baseball Crank has a terrific set of rules for running for president as a Republican. Even if you paren’t planning to run for president, his rules are a pretty good way of looking at politics. My personal favorite is:
17-Never assume the voters are stupid or foolish, but also don’t assume they are well-informed. Talk to them the way you’d explain something to your boss for the first time.
You shouldn’t need a rule for this. Was Tim Pawlenty following this rule when he suggested that we should follow the example of Tiger Woods’ wife and “take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government”? Was Bobby Jindal following this rule when he (or his consultants) wrote:
Because the left wants: The government to explode; to pay everyone; to hire everyone; they believe that money grows on trees; the earth is flat; the industrial age, factory-style government is a cool new thing; debts don’t have to be repaid; people of faith are ignorant and uneducated; unborn babies don’t matter; pornography is fine; traditional marriage is discriminatory; 32 oz. sodas are evil; red meat should be rationed; rich people are evil unless they are from Hollywood or are liberal Democrats; the Israelis are unreasonable; trans-fat must be stopped; kids trapped in failing schools should be patient; wild weather is a new thing; moral standards are passé; government run health care is high quality; the IRS should violate our constitutional rights; reporters should be spied on; Benghazi was handled well; the Second Amendment is outdated; and the First one has some problems too.
Jindal and Pawlenty are trying to sound like an exasperated talk radio caller – and coming off like condescending phonies. The thing is, even most exasperated talk radio callers probably don’t want a president who sounds like an exasperated talk radio caller. The Republican nominating electorate is pretty discerning. Like Baseball Crank said, most voters don’t necessarily start off knowing much about a particular public policy, but they learn as the process unfolds. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 unraveled under scrutiny. So did Michele Bachmann’s poll numbers. The two top finishers in the last Republican presidential contest were the two who least insulted the electorate’s intelligence.
Look at Ronald Reagan’s radio addresses. He doesn’t exactly sound like he is explaining something to his boss. He sounds like he is trying to explain things to his reasonably intelligent and mentally well-balanced, but not politically obsessed neighbor. It seems to have worked out pretty well for him.