I tried to think of the nicest way to say this – the best way. The “wash his mouth out with soap” was one such way. Another might be, “Mr. Luntz, you’re too smart for this, so please just shut your mouth.”
Here is what the wrote – page 271, in his newest book, Win:
“No one trusts the government to get anything right. So if all you’re doing is complying with minimum standards, they you immediately wrap yourself up in the government’s shroud of ineptitude. You must go higher.”
I am offended by this paragraph. And I call it for what it is – untrue, and petty.
Where shall I start? I could talk about the past: how I have driven from Florida to California using the Interstate Highway system, a project that the government got right. I could talk about the times I have needed something delivered to me, or sent elsewhere, and it showed up, as expected, through the United States Postal Service. I promise you, they did it at a higher percentage of success than my dry cleaners does in getting my shirts just right. (And, yes, of course, I know that the post office is in very big financial trouble – but I suspect e-mail, and all of those companies who ask me to go paperless, have something to do with that).
Or, I could take some pretty recent stories: recently, I have called two different government agencies, seeking information and help in two specific areas. In each case, a human being talked to me, in a cordial and informative tone, and each sent me requested material which arrived faster than I would have expected – within a couple of days.
I could talk politics – it is tempting. Mr. Luntz believes the view (he helped shape the view) that is the dominant view of many Republicans: “we need less government. Government is inept.” But I think such a view is wrong.
I remember reading about Bill Clinton’s insistence to put a genuine professional in charge of FEMA when he was president. And, while he was president, FEMA got some pretty high marks in some incredibly difficult circumstances. President Clinton put a genuine professional in that position, unlike his successor who put a political supporter in the same position. And that did not turn out so well.
Here’s what I think… We need people who lead government who believe in the validity of what government can do well.
And Mr. Luntz needs to change his words – these did not work for me.
Anyway, I am a fan of Frank Luntz. I have read his three books, and after Friday, will have presented synopses of all three. I have recommended them, and will recommend this book. It is a good book.
But Mr. Luntz, I trust the government to get a lot of things right. And so should you. So, please keep your cynicism, your ridicule, to yourself. The people who work so diligently deserve your appreciation and praise, not your ridicule.