When I was out running this morning I was thinking about how easy it is to be pessimistic about things. Reuters reported yesterday that “the confidence of American consumers continued to plummet as a result of weakening economic conditions and escalating gasoline prices.”
That was based on results of the ABC/Washington Post consumer confidence survey.
I didn’t need survey results to tell me that Americans aren’t very confident — or happy — these days. I waited in a long line yesterday to get gasoline. I didn’t know this but apparently there was a rumor making the rounds that the price of a gallon of gasoline was going to go up today to $3.95 from $3.75 for regular yesterday. Not a shock even if true. I figure gasoline will be well north of $4 a gallon by Memorial Day. But the idea of a 20-cent price hike was enough to get drivers scrambling to the pumps. Gee. Haven’t had this much fun since the gasoline shortages of the 1970s. (Photo: The good old days.)
Then I made my way to the post office. The number of people in line would have been an embarrassment even to Starbucks. But people wanted to beat the price hike — even if it only saved them a penny a letter. Oh, mama. Next thing you know a company will pull a stupid stunt like selling 23-cent pizzas.
Might as well. Here’s the latest from the ABC/Washington Post poll:
Eighty-two percent of Americans now say the country’s seriously off on the wrong track, up 10 points in the last year to a point from its record high in polls since 1973. And 31 percent approve of Bush’s job performance overall, while 66 percent disapprove.
I expect that one reason for this low approval rating is that many people no longer trust the president to be honest with them.
By the way, Jimmy Carter’s approval rating was lower. But that was in 1979 when we were sitting in line hoping to get a gallon of gasoline at any price. I digress.
I’m not so sure what gets us back on the right track — but something tells me that some honesty on the part of our elected officials — and those seeking elected office — sure would help to alter the perception that the glass is not only half empty but has a hole in the bottom. Tell the truth. In public relations, isn’t that the advice we give to clients and employers? And you know what, it works.
Actually, Thomas Friedman got we thinking about this a week or so ago when I read his column in The New York Times, “Who Will Tell The People?” Here’s one part of what is really an excellent commentary:
Much nonsense has been written about how Hillary Clinton is “toughening up” Barack Obama so he’ll be tough enough to withstand Republican attacks. Sorry, we don’t need a president who is tough enough to withstand the lies of his opponents. We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.
Tell the truth. It’s the foundation for effective public relations. Given a chance, maybe it will work in government as well. Might as well be optimistic about it. Who knows. Miracles happen.