It’s so sad about President Bush; not only has he been shamed into cutting back on gym time to go about the business of appearing appropriately crestfallen during the Responsibility Admittance Phase of Hurricane Katrina, he can’t even have a lousy drink to shore-up his wounded pride.
Let’s all do some of our famous American praying that President Bush doesn’t relapse with the booze; if he did have one or two stiff ones, even group-think, Oprah types might have a hard time forgiving him if he fell off the wagon now.
Bush has taken a nasty, ugly blow to his popularity - and ego. Even way up in Air Force One or within the muted confines of the Oval Office, he somehow heard the Bush-bashing cacophony coming from the blogosphere alone. It’s so loud now you wonder if even Karl Rove will be left around The White House to hold his hand while he has a good cry.
It didn’t have to be so bad for Bush, on a public relations level at least. He could have given the appearance at least of having been semi-engaged in the events playing out along the Gulf Coast by immediately ending his vacation, had someone insisted for him.
He might have used some of that sculpted body mass he elaborately maintains to be seen pulling a senior citizen to safety. And no, that was not his job, but it sure would have looked good on him.
But it goes much deeper than a photo-op. Those who do their jobs in the hermetically-sealed environment of power and privilege run the risk of, imagine this, being out of touch with the rest of us – at a time when we have never been so in touch ourselves!
We’re tuned-in, plugged-in and communicating with one another like we never have been before. Americans are out here in the real world downloading and pod casting and programming ourselves into a veritable stupor of information. There are now withdrawal studies about those unable to back away from the Internet.
And Bush waits days for an aide to present him with a specially produced DVD of news clips to get a clue as to what’s going on down in New Orleans?
Is not even Fox News blaring through Air Force One during times of grave national concerns?
What is the one prop that’s missing from the hands of ALL the government leaders we’re seeing on TV, at any level? The one thing no modern American, rich or poor, would be caught flooded, evacuated, dead, alive, or practically asleep without? Answer is -- a cell phone!
Even if batteries could not be charged and service was down, I’d be willing to bet that a large percentage of those trapped at the Superdome or New Orleans convention center had a cell phone on them at the time; a wet, useless one no doubt, but nonetheless a personal technology delivery device.
The gross irony here is that average Americans are NOT out of touch. On the contrary. Never before in history have we been so able to communicate with one another. If you’re not working that BlackBerry, you’re a serious nobody these days, no matter what your line of work or play might be.
We Americans like to look busy, even if we’re calling the neighbor to find out if it was Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines she used for the bake sale brownies last week. And some wonder why we don't respond well to leadership that appears so glaringly otherwise?
I want to offer anyone in a position of authority appearing on TV my two-cents worth of PR-related advice: loose the analog-era props and go get yourself a BlackBerry.
What’s with the layers of handlers, the behind-the-shoulder posse and the tired old wooden podiums?
Our government leaders, at every level, have shown themselves to be so behind the techno-communications curve that it seems that they can’t even manufacture a decent photo-op (or disaster-op as Ms. Dowd calls them today) to send a shout-out to the world that they are even semi clued-in.
We were informed Mr. Bush. Too bad you were not.
Your kingdom for a laptop.
And for those who need to bypass that TimesSelect branding effort (sounds like coffee doesn't it?), just drop me a note for the right free tools.