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« Tucker Watkins | Main | George McGovern »

October 09, 2012

Comments

Dan

I haven't seen the special but I'll certainly try to check it out.

You raise a very important point: People who believe, with little or no experience with how Washington works, that they can easily change it. What a pipe dream!

I recall Jimmy Carter coming to Washington with the notion of "changing" it. His difficulty had nothing to do with partisanship (which is so often claimed as the main culprit for all that ails Washington). His problem was a striking ability to piss off the Democratic majority in Congress because he had little understanding of the differences in presiding over the federal government as opposed to running Georgia.

I saw Obama bring similar expectations to town and see them unrealized (although this time the reason WAS hyper partisanship and Republican obstruction). Although Obama does have some solid legislative accomplishments and the book isn't written yet on the entirety of his presidency.

If Romney is elected (something I wouldn't bet the farm on) he faces a double whammy of unrealistic expectations. The silly idea that the culture and ways of Washington can be easily changed AND the ludicrous notion that being a CEO is analogous to being President of the United States.

Sure there is a political element in the corporate environment. But is is not anything like being president. There is absolutely no comparison. A completely different skill set is required to perform effectively. Being a CEO is not necessarily a handicap, but it isn't a plus either.

The issue isn't really to "change" Washington whatever the heck that means anyway. The issue is to be effective in Washington. To do that there is no substitute for actual experience in and knowledge of Washington.

That's why in 2001 I thought Donald Rumsfeld was a great choice for Secretary of Defense (boy was I wrong!). Bush had proposed spending about 50 billion fewer dollars on defense during the 2000 campaign. That would have been no small feat considering the bureaucracy and entrenched contractor interests who would have fought it tooth and nail. Screw the country! These boys want to keep feathering their own nests with ever higher defense budgets. I thought somebody like Rumsfeld, who had held the position before and knew what he was up against, was the only sort who might stand a fighting chance.

Dick Cheney proved highly effective precisely because of his knowledge of the levers of power within the federal government and how to manipulate them. He also threw in a not insignificant amount of bullying and brow beating. But he got the things he wanted to get done accomplished. I personally think many things he did were very damaging to our country, but we are talking effectiveness here and not right and wrong.

To bring it back to your point, the naivete about Washington and his lack of Washington experience make Romney a real wild card. This is amplified by his seeming lack of any real core. I have no idea what to expect of this man as a president. He is a reed blowing in the wind.

The fact that his foreign policy team is made up almost entirely of the Bush neo-con types who brought us such a disastrous foreign policy is not very comforting. And that nothing of a foreign policy address he just gave did nothing to assuage the fear that he has no vision in that area and really is pretty clueless.

I realize that we are within four weeks of the election, the height of the silly season when everything said is deemed to be motivated by partisanship. But I fear that Romney has the potential to be a truly disastrous president. If he's elected I sure hope I'm wrong.

Chris

Dan, I largely agree. To make matters worse, Romney never really was a CEO anyways. His business was in management consulting. He went into businesses that were already broke and tried to fix them. He never really started anything from scratch and made every decision both large and small. So even his business background is a misnomer.

Dan

Not to keep flogging this particular horse but I just read this:

Mitt Romney declined to state whether he would have vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as president, which authorized indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists including U.S. citizens, during a town hall in Mount Vernon, Ohio Wednesday.

"I'll look at that particular piece of legislation," Romney said, responding to a question from the audience on whether he would have vetoed it over the controversial indefinite detention provision.

Romney went on to describe a commitment both to the rights of citizens and our ability to keep America safe. He mentioned the fatal attacks in Benghazi, Libya and said he did not think this was a good time to pull back on America's security efforts.

"As to that specific piece of legislation, I'm happy to take a look at that," he said.


Wow! Just, wow! They may not be screening the crowds as closely as they did for Bush in 2004 but I imagine this voter was there because he's predisposed to vote Republican. And the concern expressed by the question is a concern shared by many people both left and right of center. And it's a question any presidential candidate worth his salt should be able to answer straightforwardly. Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton sure would have. I'm certain John McCain would have. Heck, even George W. Bush who often stumbled in unscripted and unexpected situations would have taken a stab at giving this voter a more satisfying answer to his question.

This is the type of question that carries some risk but which requires a thoughtful answer. It's the type of question that even if the voter doesn't completely agree with your response he may still vote for you if he feels you share his concern for the important underlying issues. Romney just blew it off in a rather lame fashion.

The essence of political leadership is to state what you believe, why you believe it, and why those to whom you are speaking should believe it too. And to persuade them to follow you in that direction.

I understand the need to tack left or right in politics. I forgive John McCain his inane "just build the dang fence" ad when he had a Republican primary to win for instance. But I believe McCain has a core. That if things turned to shit that he could reach down and find bedrock. I don't get that sense with Romney. It's all tell them what they want to hear (even completely contradictory things in different venues) and about nothing other than wanting to be president. Which is not a good formula for successful governance.

Isophorone

So you think Gary Johnson will make things better?

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