Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union Speech: Substance & Style

There really isn’t much I want to say about last night’s State of the Union speech. Almost all of it was a rewind of previous ones, and the rest was a parade of spin and props.  I would like to say something about style, staff work and stage management though.

Senior leaders in the military, civilian world, or government cannot think that they can coast by on the substance of their argument, the validity of their data, or how well their argument “reads.” This has been a well known fact that broke above the ambient noise following the Kennedy-Nixon debate in 1960, the fact this still needs to be discussed is just silly.

Be as impressed or unimpressed with the substance or politics of President Obama’s SOTU, but the style, presentation, staff work, and stage craft was, as it almost always with him, top-shelf.  Yes, I didn’t care much for the beta-male pastel ties he, the VP, and the Speaker were wearing – simply not what a pinnacle power’s leaders wear – but that is just me. Everything else; varsity football – even if Biden’s vanity was showing with the glasses routine; that's just 'ole Joe.

Sigh … and then we come to the B-team. I’m sorry, but the Republicans need to up their game so much it is pathetic.

Everyone here knows I was a supporter of Senator Rubio (R-FL) since before he even declared against Crist for the FL Rep. primary challenge. He’s no political novice for goodness sake; he was speaker of the FL house in his 30s for goodness sake. I’ve taken the kids to see him speak in person in front of a small audience … etc … but for the love of Pete – who on his Staff was with him last night?

The staging was horrible. Well before the start, someone knew he needed a drink. Rubio has been speaking in public enough, that the dry-mouth rookie mistake should never have happened.  Heck, I am a dimple on a gnat’s a55, but have been doing public speaking for a long time – water is always in the top-3 before going live. When I was on senior leadership personal staff and organized engagements; water came right after microphone. 

Rubio’s substance was strong, but no one will remember it because of JV stagecraft and weak Staff support. Yes, I know, Rubio should have taken care of his mouth himself … but he was following the President of the US – a bit distracted; that is why great people have great staff support.

Now on to Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). I wasn’t a big fan of his father, but I kind of like Paul the Younger. I don’t know if you caught it, but I did. Someone allowed the pre-broadcast live feed out on the internet – as a result I had a chance to watch Paul the Younger fuss with his hair, tighten his tie, and just minutes before starting – having to direct who was going to give him the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown, where they were going to do it, and how they were going to do it … along with other details.  Details THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN CARE OF BY THE STAFF. Paul’s substance was OK – but who picked his wardrobe? Good googly moogly man; get someone on your staff with some fashion sense and desire to have you look like you can stand up to the most powerful person on the planet. Visuals matter.  Oh, and I am not even going to talk about the hair.

Seriously Republicans – you are going to counter the might and message of the Executive Branch of the United States of America with one of the best politicians (don’t laugh, he got re-elected when almost no one else could/should have) we have seen since Nixon – you are going to counter with that kind of weak-cheese stagecraft and staff support?

In a fashion, both Rubio and Paul had very good substance – but no one is going to hear it when they are watching the clown care, dancing bear, and dogs licking themselves in the background.

For goodness sakes – someone get both of them a quality body-man. Heck, I know of dozens of solid USN Flag LTs who would never let a 1-star make those kind of mistakes speaking to a VFW post in Itchybottom Hollow, West Virginia, much less Senators trying to box with the CINC.
UPDATE: As I would expect, Rubio is taking care of it with style.

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