“We must love each other or we must die.” – Lyndon Johnson voice-over for the 1964 “Daisy Ad” with a nuclear explosion in the background

“What Reagan wanted was to get on with the last act. He reached into his coat pocket and removed a deceptively plain white laminated card that had the power to summon hell on earth.” – Excerpt from Lou Cannon’s “Role of a Lifetime”daisy1

Has there ever been a political attack advertisement that could rival the shock-and-awe that comes from watching the stark black-and-white Daisy Ad? There was absolutely no subtlety when it came to President Johnson intimating that the unnamed Barry Goldwater of being trigger happy when it came to nuclear war.

Hillary Clinton ran the 3 am ad in primary season 2008, essentially asking voters whether they were comfortable with Barack Obama having the plain white laminated card in his pocket. Some said the ad was the equivalent of the Daisy ad. Watching both ads back-to-back (see both links below), the 3 am ad seems almost tame.

Harry S. Truman said if one needed a friend in Washington, D.C. the simple solution was to get a dog. Today’s political culture is downright brutal. We have seen ads featuring a politician pushing granny off the cliff, “swift-boating” a veteran or introducing the nation to Willie Horton. Even against these provocative examples, they all fail to rise to the level of fear mongering associated with the young girl picking daisy petals as the nuclear war countdown begins.

Johnson’s frank choice between love and death brings into question his temperament to have access to nation’s nuclear codes. Reagan’s calm relinquishing of the white laminated card, intended to be inserted into the “football,” should be seen as reassuring.

For years, we were reassured that no major terrorist event ever occurred in this country. We can’t say that anymore. What are the chances of a nuclear, biological, chemical or cyber attack in the next 50 years? At least 50/50?

Can you imagine waking up and finding out that your digital records of all of your investment, savings and checking accounts have permanently disappeared into the ether … and with them your nest egg, your child’s college education, your daughter’s wedding, the house down payment or even tomorrow’s groceries … ?

Maybe the question posed by the Daisy ad is still relevant. A related interrogative of equal importance relates to character and temperament of the next person to hold the plain white laminated card in his suit jacket or her purse.donaldcarly,jpg

For example, are we comfortable with the thought of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina or Bernie Sanders having possession of the plain white laminated card?

Persona Matters

As the date of the next presidential election gets closer, those charged with reputation management and branding of candidates for the highest office in the land are naturally preoccupied with projecting strength, intelligence, sensitivity and gravitas.

These are all vital for a president. But please allow Almost DailyBrett to ask if you mother told you: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”? Most of us have heard some iteration of this “mom-a-lee” during the course of our lives.

Political campaign press secretaries and communications directors need to be even more concerned about how a candidate deports herself or himself under constant fire in a world of ever-smaller cameras and ever-more acute microphones. Yes, everything and anything is on-the-record in our 24 news-cycles-per-day digital world.

Does your candidate come across as arrogant, unyielding and demagogic or does your candidate project calmness, humor, discipline and confidence?

Does your candidate simply tear everything down from Washington, D.C., Wall Street and other candidates, calling them “stupid” or “corrupt” or does your candidate offer a roadmap with specifics for a more positive future to an anxious nation?

Most of all, does your candidate have the temperament and character to be trusted with four-year or eight-year possession of the plain laminated white card? Some may point to social issues, the economy, jobs, immigration as being the most important questions that will confront the next president.

But heaven forbid, what happens if ICBMs are inbound from Russia and Vladimir Putin isn’t taking any calls?

Even though we are not practicing duck-and-cover any longer in our classrooms, the threat is still there; it will always be there.

Daisy Ad 2016?

What should we think of a candidate and her or his team that would dare to run the 21st. Century equivalent of the Daisy Ad with a nuclear explosion (or chemical, biological or cyber attack) in the background?daisy

What if that candidate gave us a stark choice between loving everybody or dying?

What would that either/or question say about the temperament, the character and persona of that candidate?

Would we really want that person to have access to the plain white laminated card to summon hell on earth?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ_z9Tpdl9A

http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1991/04/22/ronald-reagan-all-american-individualist/9fb8e00c-dbaa-4b5e-a145-2e3e268052fd/

 

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