Opinion

Awaiting inspiration for 2016

The following editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee on Friday:

In 2007, Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy before thousands of people who stood in the winter cold outside the Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Abraham Lincoln’s hometown.

Love Obama or not, Obama’s announcement was powerful and moving.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a policy speech that set forth his vision. For that, he deserves credit.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee went to his hometown, Hope, and gave his supporters a speech around which they could rally, though his line about never thinking of using a firearm to murder someone was weird and hardly bumper sticker worthy.

They are the exception in 2016. Now, candidates are turning to high-tech gimmickry.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, released a video that ran less than three minutes, featuring “real people” talking about their own lives and aspirations. Clinton appears late in the video with a truncated message that could easily have been crafted by Don Draper from “Mad Men” pitching canned hams.

Carly Fiorina, the anti-Clinton, appeared on a Web video watching a video of Clinton before making her own announcement. At least the one-time Hewlett Packard chief executive didn’t reprise the “Demon Sheep” ad from her failed U.S. Senate campaign in 2010.

Others are trying a little too hard. Dr. Ben Carson rented a hall in Detroit, where various stage acts performed prior to his entrance, including a gospel version of an Eminem song. He wore a headset microphone, like some high-tech entrepreneur pitching a new product.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stood in a theater-in-the-round at Liberty University before students whose attendance there was mandatory. He looked and sounded like Dr. Phil lecturing a studio audience.

And so on.

Other candidates almost certainly will enter the race, including Jeb Bush, who instantly will be the presumed front-runner for the Republican nomination. Let’s hope that he doesn’t announce via video or tweet it in 140 characters.

We like the old-fashioned way: Stand up, give an impassioned speech that lets ’er rip, with people cheering, smiling and waving, and then jump the next plane to Iowa. We understand it’s only politics. But an authentic attempt at inspiration would be appreciated.

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