To Obama and Romney: Start acting presidential | GUEST VIEWPOINT


A few weeks ago, I wrote a commentary that President Obama should bring some modicum of civility and “presidentiality” to a campaign that has sunk about as low as it can go.

I really did not expect to influence the President of the United States as to his oratory on the stump. The hope was that, by now, both he and his opponent, Gov. Romney, might have figured out the confusion of most Americans and probably millions of others around the world as to who these fellows are who are acting more like prizefighters before a bout than contenders for world leadership.

Ironically, at a dinner the other night, an experienced person in politics from the conservative area asked quite seriously: “I wonder what the really respected Republican thinkers and columnists must be thinking of what has become of traditional party values in this campaign.”

I could not help but chime in to echo those concerns for both parties and whoever is doing the campaign writing and strategy for Obama and Romney.

There are, of course, those who just toss aside this array of intemperate and unproductive daily venom as the usual rhetoric of political campaigns.

That might be good enough for some, but even major influential commentators from both partisan sides seem to agree the matter has gotten out of hand, one reason why both candidates have such high negatives, according to polls that are all over the place.

It might seem naïve, immodest or even silly, but I would suggest to both Romney and Obama to start acting “presidential” instead of neighborhood kids most of us used to know who would stand on opposite sides of the street and call each other names to see who could come up with the most effective invective in futile yelling that led nowhere.

Those performances were not much different from the daily rhetorical whoflungjohn emanating from two men who want not only to lead America but expect, when what passes for a presidential campaign is over, to be seen as world leaders as well.

It cannot be overlooked that there are some powerful PR firms and consultants helping to produce those speeches and brickbats from each candidate.

Perhaps they and the rest of us might consider taking a deep breath and suggest to the both men to start acting presidential so that America can recapture the relevance we have lost from two wars we cannot end, debt we cannot calculate that has been the result of bipartisan madness and get on with meeting the needs of real people.

It’s called acting presidential.

Joseph J. Honick is president of GMA International on Bainbridge Island.

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