Win­ning Amer­i­cans

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Demo­cratic Mas­sachusetts Sen. John Kerry, cur­rently weigh­ing an­other bid for the White House in 2008, al­ready has picked up po­lit­i­cal poll­ster Frank Luntz’s new book, “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What Peo­ple Hear.”

As the poll­ster preaches, Amer­i­cans pre­fer politi­cians who see the prover­bial glass as half-full rather than half-empty.

“A cramped, sour, neg­a­tive out­look on life comes across as down­right un-Amer­i­can. Both Al Gore and John Kerry learned that les­son the hard way,” Mr. Luntz writes. “One key to Bill Clin­ton’s nat­u­ral ap­peal was that he al­ways seemed rel­a­tively sunny and up­beat, even at his most self-in­dul­gent or when wal­low­ing in self-pity.”

Mr. Clin­ton also spoke of “build­ing a bridge to the 21st cen­tury.” By con­trast, says Mr. Luntz, his op­po­nent for re-elec­tion in 1996, Bob Dole, seemed to want to build a bridge to the “16th cen­tury.”

“Things used to be bet­ter, Dole re­mem­bered, be­cause he was there. He was an old man telling the kids about the lost world of his child­hood, when the sun shone a lit­tle brighter and the sea sparkled a lit­tle bluer,” he writes.

The ex­act op­po­site, in other words, of Ron­ald Rea­gan’s “Morn­ing in Amer­ica” lan­guage. Even the Gip­per’s farewell let­ter to the Amer­i­can peo­ple in 1994, in which he dis­closed that he had Alzheimer’s dis­ease, touched ev­ery­body, says Mr. Luntz.

“I know that for Amer­ica, there will al­ways be a bright dawn ahead,” Mr. Rea­gan had writ­ten.

“In­domitable good cheer — in a let­ter an­nounc­ing that he was af­flicted with a cruel, ter­mi­nal ill­ness,” says the poll­ster. “That is the win­ning op­ti­mism Amer­i­cans love.”

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