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‘Don’t Get Mad, Except on Purpose’

Conservative leader Morton Blackwell has a long-standing maxim: “Don’t get mad, except on purpose.”

The point is that looking angry can be beneficial to a leader, but you should never truly lose your “cool.”

Today, Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz examines the phenomenon of anger in politics: “Anger can be a useful instrument in public life. Think of Truman giving ’em hell, JFK calling steel executives SOBs, Reagan demanding that Gorby tear down this wall, Bush using a bullhorn to denounce the people who knocked down those buildings. (It should be noted that in every aforementioned example, the political leader knew in advance didn’t just “fly off the handle” – he knew in advance what he was going to say).

More Kurtz: “But (anger) can also be cast as a liability by those who want to raise questions about an opponent’s temperament , as if politics was played by Marquis of Queensbury rules. We saw this in the Bushian whispers in 2000 that McCain came back from the Hanoi Hilton with a few screws loose, and we see it again in the latest GOP swipe against Hillary”

Kurtz also quotes from DNC talking points: “Anger is a real problem in American politics. Democrats lost the last presidential election in part because our side was so mad at Bush we couldn’t see straight. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton consistently outfoxed Republicans because they hated him so much. Anger is so toxic that both party headquarters would do themselves and the country a great favor by steering their followers away from it.”

Once again, Morton Blackwell was right. In a fight (whether physical or verbal) the person who gives in to his or her emotions will often do stupid things. So if you’re running for office, always remember, “Never get mad, except on purpose!”

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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