John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Confidence Game

Posted on May 10, 2011
Politics is essentially a game of confidence.

You vote for a candidate because you have confidence that that candidate can get the job done. Or you vote for a candidate because you have confidence that the other person can’t get the job done.

A successful politician exudes confidence. They seem to ooze credibility and so they get elected. It is amazing sometimes how politicians have so much confidence in themselves that they would actually put themselves through the rigors of a campaign. Some people might say that they have a screw loose, but that is a different story.

A President must exude confidence in the future. If he (or she) can’t, then voters vote against them in the next election. What’s the use of having a President who thinks we are all doomed? That serves nobody’s purpose.

People are afraid of the future because it is unknown, and they assume the worst. A President who has confidence in his (or her) plan for the future usually has the upper hand with the voters.

But a President can’t only have confidence in himself. The people have to have confidence in the President.

And that usually means having confidence in the economy, in our nation’s security, in the direction of the country. Pollsters always ask a right track/wrong direction poll. Is the country going on the right track or the wrong direction? It is usually an indicator about how much confidence the people have in the vision of the President. That has been a bad number for a while now.

People outside the beltway don’t have much confidence in the people inside the beltway, and the feeling is pretty mutual. The Washington crowd thinks that the great unwashed can’t think for themselves. The hardworking folks in the real world think that Washington takes too much of their money and wastes it.

There isn’t much confidence in Wall Street these days. The big bank bailout is still very unpopular with the voters. But the market has made a nice comeback over the last couple of years, so the sting has eased a bit.

The business community had zero confidence in the President after the first couple of months of his term. He didn’t have much confidence in them either. That meant that business didn’t invest in any jobs while the Democrats had the run the government. Once Republicans got back the House, business was able to breathe a bit of sigh of relief, but the rocky relationship between big business and the President still exists.

The Tea Party has no confidence in the GOP, but they have less confidence in the Democrats, so the Republicans got the majority of the Tea Party support. Truth be told, most establishment Republicans don’t trust the Tea Party either, but they put up with them because they helped deliver them their majority.

Pundits like to talk about how issues will drive the next election. Will it be gas prices or jobs or the economy or Bin Laden? I think the election will hinge on one thing: Do the voters have confidence in the President or do they think he is running a confidence game on them?

That is the real issue in the next election.

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