Sunday, November 25, 2007

Candidacies



Yesterday I met with a prospective local candidate. He's a good guy and would be wonderful to have in government. I was encouraging and even donated to his campaign. And I said to him what I say to all of them: to win office, you have to run with all your being -- and you have to understand that the qualities that make a good candidate are completely different than the qualities that make for a good officeholder.

I've previously described the quality candidates need as benign megalomania.

This morning I see that Mark Halperin. a senior political analyst for Time magazine and former ABC News Political Director, is saying something similar about our aspiring presidents:

Our two most recent presidents, both of whom I covered while they were governors seeking the White House. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are wildly talented politicians. Both claimed two presidential victories, in all four cases arguably as underdogs. Both could skillfully serve as the chief strategist for a presidential campaign.

But their success came not because they convinced the news media (and much of the public) that they would be the best president, but because they dominated the campaign narrative that portrayed them as the best candidate in a world-class political competition. In the end, both men were better presidential candidates than they were presidents.

Halperin is criticizing the news media, his own profession, himself, for practicing the horserace journalism that values political dexterity over policy substance. He might as well criticize our capitalist culture that has assured most of us that candidates are just marketable commodities and that holds campaigns to no higher ethical standards than it holds prescription drug commercials.

...These side effects may kill you, but isn't the background scenery lovely ... soft music fades...

4 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Jan, I have never been quite so jaded about a presidential campaign and its coverage by the media, as I am about this one. I will vote for the Democrat, but I'm so sick of the run-up to the vote. It's pure marketing and lots of money being spent for what? Certainly not to inform people. Neither the candidates nor the media want people informed. It's all about images.

sfmike said...

Robert Farley over at "Lawyers, Guns and Money" wrote the following:

Halperin goes on to argue that Bush and Clinton suffer from tragic flaws, each undermined as Presidents by the qualities that made them strong campaigners. Original, that. On Clinton:

The fun-loving campaigner with big appetites and an undisciplined manner squandered a good deal of the majesty and power of the presidency, and undermined his effectiveness as a leader. What much of the country found endearing in a candidate was troubling in a president.


If by "much of the country" you mean "the beltway elite" then I'm with ya. But I don't think that's what you mean. I know we all know this, but it bears repeating; Bill Clinton was a remarkably popular President, and his term in office bears no meaningful resemblance to that of his successor, except in the minds of elite journalists. Clinton irritated the Village by getting a blowjob; Bush irritated the world by blowing up a country. Tragic flaws, indeed

janinsanfran said...

While Clinton was indeed a very popular President (and Halperin is a self-justifying idiot to need to equate him with Bush), Clinton also kicked the shit out of people who were his friends: especially Black people (remember Sista Souljah) and poor women (the welfare deform).

Not perhaps quite so unforgivable as the amiable frat boy, but very close.

Kay Dennison said...

Well said!!! I am heartsick at all the posturing and garbage I've seen in the media. And with those idiots in Congress passing H.R. 1955 (now S. 1959) -- the Thought Crime Bill -- it tells me that there isn't a single one of them that's worth the gunpowder to blow 'em to hell or is worthy of my vote. Yeah, I'm gonna vote but I'll be holding my nose.

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