The Huffington Post had an interview with Thom Hartmann that was not only politically interesting, but had some good insight on communications. Hartmann has written a book Cracking the Code involving communications.
"There’s considerable evidence that before the 2001 attack, whether it was intentional or not, nobody was paying attention and everybody was asleep at the switch. George Bush had over fifty different warnings that 9-11 was coming, including the famous memo [Presidential Daily Briefing] that was delivered in August."
He goes on to say that George Bush knew that planes could be hijacked because when he was in Italy in March of that year, he was moved to an aircraft carrier, because they had specific, credible intelligence that Bin Laden himself was behind a plan to hijack an aircraft and crash it into a hotel where Bush was sleeping. So you’d think in March when that happened they would have put two and two together. But Bush had put Dick Cheney in charge of the counter-terrorism task force and that task force never even bothered to meet until September of 2001. Hartmann says:
"So 9-11 wasn’t a failure of intelligence. It was the most spectacular failure of the executive branch in our history arguably."
Hartmann is critical of the way in which we have reacted to terrorism by our denial of civil rights rather then affirmative actions. He says other countries have dealt with terrorism by standing up to it rather then eliminating civil rights. He is quoted as saying about this issue:
"Other countries have been through [terrorism]. England had the IRA blowing up London for thirty years. A bomb went off on Downing Street that almost killed Margaret Thatcher. The British government didn’t say, ‘We need to do away with civil rights and habeas corpus.’ No. The British said, ‘We are not afraid. We are not fearful wimps. We will deal with this, we will conquer this, and in the meantime, we’re going to go about our lives.’ The same thing with Spain and the Basque separatists. The same thing with Germany and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. The same thing with Italy and the Red Brigades, who kidnapped Aldo Moro, the former prime minister, and killed him! And still the Italians didn’t say, ‘We need to throw [our] constitution into the waste basket.’ No, they said, ‘We’re not afraid, damn it!’ …"
From a political communications standpoint, he says the Democrats have had really stupid advisor’s for the last two decades and the Republicans have had very slick professionals who understand both psychology as well as marketing. He goes on to say Ronald Regan, FDR and Jack Kennedy where three of the great communicators to be in the white house.
He says what made them great was the fact they talked about their vision for American, about their story of America and gave Americans a sense of what they thought it could be. In addition, they used "moving toward pleasure" strategies rather then "pain avoidance" strategies in their communications. That is, they held up an ideal to strive for that would make us proud of ourselves. Lastly, he says, they communicated emotion and always used a story and emotion to pass along information.
I was impressed with the interview and have bought the book. What he says makes sense to me.