Article Date: 6/1/2008

Words From The Endless Campaign

Words From The Endless Campaign

When the cameras are on all the time, it's easy to lose sight of important issues.

Jim Thomas

If you're like most Americans, you're concerned about the next presidential election, but growing weary of the endless campaigning. Thanks to indefatigable 24/7 coverage, I know what Sen. John McCain thinks about fuel prices. I know what Sen. Barack Obama thinks about fuel prices. I know what Mr. Obama thinks of Mr. McCain's position on fuel prices and I know what Mr. McCain thinks of Mr. Obama's position on fuel prices. These opinions are all instructive.

But the information trail has only begun. I also know what reporters and opinion leaders at CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times and hundreds of blogs and other outlets think about the candidate's opinions on fuel prices, as well as what the media thinks about the candidate's opinion of the other candidate's opinion. (Many of these news providers will even provide me with their own opinions on fuel prices, just in case I don't have enough information yet.)

The tough part

The real challenge for the presidential candidates is to step up to the microphone virtually any hour of the day and discuss any topic. Here's the problem: Some of the people can say the right thing some of the time, but none of the people can say the right thing all of the time. Yet the media, the public and sometimes the opposing candidate are quick to judge the candidates on their off-the-cuff responses to an unrehearsed question. I hope we elect a president based on qualities, such as leadership and denison-making skills, rather than how well they would score in a situation that bears some similarity to the "lightning round" of a TV game show. Yet, I also understand that these moments afford the public a unique, though secondary, view of the candidate.

And this relates to optometry?

I would assume you attract patients because of the qualities you have instilled in your practice through time. But in every practice, surprise challenges occur (illness, late deliveries, cancelled appointments, staff emergencies, mistakes) that require immediate decisions. These "lightning-round" decisions fall outside the policy manual. If we follow the "news" model, we would interpret the wrong decision as a failure or weakness and the right decision as an undeniable victory. But as your practice isn't held to media standards, you may forego such labels. You and your staff can discuss the incident objectively and use it as a learning experience — one that may add a valuable entry to the policy manual. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: June 2008