Mark L. Hopkins: Looking for a political straight shooter
Sports announcer Howard Cosell made famous the phrase “Tell it like it is.” He prided himself on laying out his words of description for the listener just the way he saw it and letting the listener decide for himself just what occurred and, perhaps, why.
How we love a politician who will do just that for us. It is one of the reasons we liked President Ronald Reagan. The media tagged him with the name “The Great Communicator,” and he certainly was. He knew how to address the public and always seemed knowledgeable, ethical, and above all, honest. He could look us in the face right through our TV screens and tell us exactly what was going on and what he intended to do about it. And we believed it. At least the vast majority of us believed it.
It seems that every political season for the past two decades we have been looking for another Ronald Reagan. It doesn’t seem to matter who the new candidate is or what he says, if he doesn’t remind us of President Reagan we seem to doubt his credibility. George H.W. Bush was probably the best qualified President in our modern history. Yet we turned him out of office and replaced him primarily because he, well, he wasn’t Ronald Reagan. Presidents Clinton and Bush each had their strong points, but national polls indicated both left office just ahead of the political grim reaper. And that brings us to President Barack Obama.
President Obama is a visionary and a communicator. He is certainly the best at communicating we have had in that office since Reagan and when he speaks to the public he is both articulate and understandable. Still, he isn’t Reagan and at least partially because of that fact, he could walk on water and a portion of the voting public would accuse him of not being able to swim.
So who can fill the bill as the political straight shooter that our electorate is searching for, that our country needs, the one who will “Tell it like it is?” Will it be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or perhaps current governors Chris Christie or Scott Walker? How about South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham? He became a national personality during the Bill Clinton hearings back in the ‘90s, but is he well-known enough to strike a chord with rank and file Republicans? The Democrats probably have their candidate in Hillary Clinton. But of this group, who is or will become the Reagan-style communicator we are looking for? We are going to have to wait another 22 months to find out. If you feel I am leaving you with a note of skepticism, I’m sure you understand why.
Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Contact him at email@example.com.