Smirks, tongue thrusts and applause

John Taylor: January 25, 20070 Comments

 "The squints and smirks are staying hidden.... (but he) loses points for licking his lips excessively and sticking his tongue out -- sure signs of nervousness and dry mouth."

When politicians go public in a major way -- State of the Union, State of the State -- their advocates and their critics ask the two same questions: How well did (s)he present? What do the polls show?

Gov. Schwarzenegger earned a 71% approval rating from California adults and 65% backing from potential voters for the health care component of last week's State of the State speech, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll cited by the San Francisco Chronicle. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and 27% of Republicans support his intention to provide health insurance for all children, regardless of immigration status.

By that narrow measurement, so far so good for Schwarzenegger.

As to public presentation, the quote at the top of this blog is part of an assessment of President Bush's prime-time annual message to the nation by T.J. Walker, president of Media Training Worldwide, in the online PR newsletter called Bulldog Reporter's Daily 'Dog.

"Bush projected comfort and ease throughout ... (he) went for an entire 10-minute stretch without stumbling on a single syllable ... I predict he will see a nice bump in the polls."

Well, I haven't seen any polls as yet, but I interpret Walker's evaluation as a positive review of Bush, though the trainer also criticized the speech for lacking major themes (health care, Iraq, the environment were among topics) and for being poorly organized.

As someone who's written a few speeches and coached a few presenters, I credit Bush and his Democratic rebutter, Sen. James Webb, for brevity.