Friday, February 23, 2007

What's Missing in Republican Speeches?

Conservatives’ current gloom is, in part, a symptom of a perceived “eloquence gap” among the top Republican presidential contenders. Moreover, it is a sign that somewhere amid the Donkey Party’s 2006 congressional stampede, Republican rhetoric got knocked off-key and is in desperate need of tuning.

Looking across history’s arc of great Republican speeches, one finds that they all contain three key themes—three communicative “pillars”—that when combined create powerful and enduring messages that transcend time.

The first pillar is an unyielding espousal of individualism and self-sufficiency...

...The second communicative pillar upon which powerful Republican oratory rests is unflinching support for a strong military and national defense. Let’s face it, civil liberties are hard to exercise if one is dead; Republicans believe that security is the wellspring from which liberty flows. And that’s why great GOP speeches have often bulged with a military muscularity. Not arrogance, mind you. But a cool confidence so supreme in tone and definitive in delivery that it lands a clenched fist wrapped in a velvet glove across the chin of the former Soviet Union...

...And finally, the third communicative pillar that typifies soul-shaking Republican rhetoric is unapologetic support for Judeo-Christian morals and values. This pillar, more than any other, explains the current conservative dissatisfaction. From Lincoln to Reagan, a winning Republican message has almost always included a genuine and sincere connection to the Divine...

...The secret formula to Ronald Reagan’s most powerful speeches is that he showcased the three pillars found in the greatest Republican speeches in history. As Ronald Reagan’s chief political strategist and my former co-author, Dick Wirthlin, likes to say, “President Reagan knew how to persuade through reason and motivate through emotion.”

The Republican candidate who best communicates the three pillars of epic Republican speeches can close the eloquence gap and shape history.

Read the rest of this really terrific Wynton Hall column here.