On Speech Making

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been heralded for her strong convention speech and her oratory skills. People all over the country are saying she came across well.

Good for her. It’s great to see someone with little large audience experience succeed at a podium.

Nevertheless, a presidential election shouldn’t be about charisma or sound bites. It shouldn’t be about getting jabs in against the opponent. And it shouldn’t be about likeability. (We currently have a White House occupant who was deemed likeable; when polled way back, before Iraq and the economy tanked, Americans indicated they would like to have a beer with George W. Bush. He’ll be free to attend barbecues very soon.)

A presidential election also shouldn’t be about gender or race, although some have set out to make it about either or both.

Nor should it be about a person’s heroism more than 35 years ago. With all due respect to Senator John McCain for his service and bravery, years in captivity do not qualify a person to be president.

Why do candidates cling to these kinds of points? Because they trigger emotional responses. Of course the thought of someone as a prisoner of war is awful. But it has nothing to do with the job for which he is applying.

The election, ultimately, should be about the issues you as a voter deem most important and how the candidate and his running mate would address those issues.

Not once in her speech did Palin mention health care, unless her reference to special needs children counts. Nothing was said about education, unless, again, her reference to special needs children counts. Granted, special needs children have requirements. And if you’re a parent of a special needs child, you can relate. But it’s essential to realize that other children have needs as well, as do adult Americans.

How important is health care to you? How important is Roe v. Wade? How critical is it that every American child has access to quality education? And what about the economy, job losses, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war on terror, our nation’s strained foreign relations, energy costs, global warming, and more?

As you assess the candidates, it’s important to listen to the content of their speeches. Don’t be swayed by slogans or other insignificant noise or poise. Ask yourself where the candidates stand on issues that matter to you, the country, and the world. Then vote accordingly.

Paula Santonocito
Career Editor, SingleMindedWomen.com