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Good advice for conservative politicians who must deal with media

Jim Geraghty of National Review Online explains how Republicans in positions of political power can avoid self-inflicted wounds.

If you’re a Republican officeholder, it is a fact of life that most of the media will be against you, and look for opportunities to make you look stupid, reckless, ill-informed, malevolent, and hopelessly out of date. You will have your own media that will be friendlier — Fox News Channel, talk radio, etc. — but by and large, you’re going to have the wind in your face every day you’re running for office and in office. …

… No doubt, communication skills matter a great deal for Republican officeholders, particularly the closer they get to the national stage. They’re not going to get the airbrushed, protective coverage that insists Nancy Pelosi is a master strategist.

But even the most brilliant communication skills in the world aren’t much help if they aren’t connected to good judgment. Maybe one of the most underrated and under-discussed duties of a GOP elected official is to not make the job of the opposition easier. Don’t hand them effective and accurate lines of criticism. Everybody’s going to make mistakes, but a good elected official avoids the dumb ones. Don’t practice cronyism or get caught in other scandals. Don’t tell lies, and if you must spin, try to make the spin plausible. Don’t overpromise, and whatever you promise, don’t under-deliver. Work hard, and make sure people see you working hard. Hold your own people accountable. Know what you’re talking about, and when you don’t know, don’t try to wing it. Have a set list of priorities that will product tangible results for your constituents, and don’t get distracted by every media controversy that comes down the pike. And for God’s sake, don’t waste any time or energy worrying about what Mika Brzezinski or Don Lemon is saying about you.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...