Tuesday 24 January 2012

Communicator of the Week

There is a skill to getting your message across when faced with a difficult question. The best politicians or business figures do it effortlessly, while others who try and fail are often ridiculed for giving a ‘politicians answer’. A disingenuous answer to a straight-forward question is intensely damaging and undermines an individual’s reputation. The problem? Taking the question head-on often causes immense problems as well. Which brings me to Newton Leroy Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich is a politician and individual who polarises opinion in an intense way. He has built a career on telling it how it is (or at least how he sees it) and by seeking out conflict rather than working to avoid it. His straight talking style is seen by many Republicans as the perfect antidote to the slick professional politicians who have made the business of politics so unpopular in America. Hours before the latest round of voting in the presidential primary season, it emerged that one of his ex-wives had given a TV interview making allegations about Gingrich which, considering the vote was in the intensely religious state of South Carolina, should have undermined his chances considerably.

The pre-vote TV debate began with the host repeating the claims by Gingrich’s ex-wife that he had asked for an open marriage. Gingrich responded with a furious attack on the liberal media elite, stating that opening the debate with a question like that was “as close to despicable as anything I can imagine”. The audience rose to applaud him and in an instant the speculation that these allegations would derail his bid for the White House disappeared.

If this had been a baseball game Gingrich hit a home run with the first pitch he faced. He deflected the issue at hand and moved onto a core vote issue (the liberal, elitist media) which made him look like an under-dog facing a gang of bullies. I don’t think anyone has bullied Newt Gingrich all his life but that was the perception he managed to portray with his answer to this question. At the same time he successfully managed to avoid answering the substance of the allegations made against him.

Subsequently he won the South Carolina primary by a handsome margin and has real momentum going into the next rounds of voting. For that I make him my Communicator of the Week. 

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