Chapter 10: Hang a Lantern On Your Problem
Tell your constituents about the skeletons in your closet and make sure they hear it from you and not from someone else. Jimmy Carter—Hung lantern on his own problems by listing them out before running for President. Carter showed his problems to the people. Understood that people were flexible and would accept him as long as he backed up his offbeat resume. Reagan—also hung lantern on his own problems when he was charged with being too old and senile for job. Responded to a question about age in a debate by saying, “I will not make my age an issue in this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Cleverly kept the issue from becoming an issue. JFK—hung a lantern on his Catholicism. Made a brilliant speech that allayed fears of Americans that he would take orders from Pope. John D. “Jay” Rockefeller—hung a lantern on his wealth “problem’ that many people did not like (because he had bought the election in West Virginia). At a Washinton Press Foundation dinner (where many people were nowhere near as rich as him and felt antipathy towards him), he immediately acknowledged the fact that he had paid 12 million to get to where he was. Broke the ice. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV)—when he realized that he would not receive endorsement of United Mine Workers President, immediately announced it himself to steal the thunder of this opponent. The strategy worked and he won the race. Douglas Bennet—when applying for Senate Budget Committees’s Staff Director, came clean about his inexperience in finance. But he argued that they did not need an economist, they needed someone who could cultivate constituency in Senate. Got the job. Got NPR job same way. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-maryland)—brought attention to her shortness with the quip, “that introduction was as short as I am.” JFK—took sole responsibility for Bay of Pigs. RWR—didn’t take responsibility for Iranian Arms scandal, tried to coverup. This was bad. Nancy Reagan—cracked image of being a Mary Antoinette figure by appearing in front of many WH journalists and sang self-parodying lyrics to “Secondhand Rose” Bill Clinton—countered the effects of his horrible DNC keynote speech by going on The Tonight Show. Played sax and made fun of himself. When you put your problems right up on the table it is a sign of strength and it allows people to move past it much more easily. Also, if you appear weaker you can receive a David and Goliath type sympathy and people will root for you as the underdog. Carter used his lack of experience in Washington as an asset to make him more appealable to the average person. During his campaign, Reagan was attacked for his old age. He acknowledged this and twisted it to his advantage by making it look like his younger opponent lacked his experience. When Tylenol had problems with their product they went out and told them that they agreed with the public and were outraged as well and would fix it. Tylenol's stock didn't go down. When Clinton made a fiteen minute speech at a DNC no one listened and the only applause he received was when he said "in conclusion." However, when he went and joked about himself on Johnny Carson people were able to forgive him and he ended up president.When JFK took full responsibility for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, he was seen as a more credible president.