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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Right Stuff

It's only fair that, as a serial Mitt basher, I try to explain why I feel he would make a bad president (aside of course from his non-existent record as governor!) So, in answer to a question, let me try to explain what I think it takes to be president-- and offer some examples of related to past and present hopefuls.

I start with the standard dodge, appropriating Justice Potter Stewart's description or pornography -- I know it when I see it. It's extremely hard to put together a list of pluses and minuses to describe the perfect president.

Mitt Romney does not have it because he is not a leader. The best presidents were leaders, men who could rally people around a cause or an ideal -- or lead through a crisis or hard times. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Roosevelt. And yes, Ronald Reagan.

Leaders also inspire confidence and respect, even if you disagree with them (as I did with virtually everything Reagan stood for and did). While he would not be one of my greats, he passed the test for a majority.

Romney, on the other hands, is a panderer, a flip-flopper, who says and does what he feels is what an audience wants to hear. The same complaint has been lodged against Bill Clinton, John Kerry and a host of presidents and presidential wannabes.

Good presidents are good communicators -- they listen and learn. Good presidents can be firm in their beliefs but willing to take into account the views and opinions of others. They are not hamstrung by ideology or just plain stubbornness -- like the current Oval Office occupant.

And good presidents are made through learning from their life experiences. Harry Truman probably falls into this category.

So what about the current crop of hopefuls?

As I said, Romney has no solid core of values, doesn't listen and has an amazingly short attention span if you look at how quickly he abandoned his job. Like Bill Weld running for governor, the challenge is in the chase. The job itself is a bore to be left to others.

Barack Obama? Too soon to tell. Learning and his applying life experiences will be crucial.

John Edwards? Intriguing. His "Two Americas" speech lays out a strong core beliefs. Interesting life experience, though skeptics might question whether going into trial law was the best way to carry out his beliefs.

Hillary Clinton? Doubtful. For starters she is too polarizing a figure. But her personal story has some good dramatic elements -- Goldwater "girl" to cuckolded wife -- and she is solid in her policy beliefs, even if they antagonize some.

John Kerry? Nope. Non-existent communications skills and a life story that virtually no one can identify with. That and an abominable track record.

Rudy Giuliani? Nope. He's a one-hit wonder who did a good job with the post 9-11 trauma in New York City but managed to infuriate a large segment of the population during the remainder of his term.

John McCain? A hero to be sure. But his drift from "maverick" to mainstream" raises more questions than it answers.

The ultimate fun of presidential pontificating is that the process is so entirely subjective. Your opinion is every bit as valid as mine (and in some cases, probably more so). Let the fun begin!

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Blogger Mark D. Snyder said...

okay okay... I'll bite.

Hillary: She has a lot of money and leadership support all shored up. I worry her centrist language will be too weak to compete with the same language deployed by any republican opponent. If you can vote for a republican lite, why not just vote for the republican leader? HOpefully she finds away to frame issues in a way that make her seem like a strong committed leader. If she can't energize the base, forget about winning the big cheese.

Obama: Exciting, but may be knocked around too much by Hillary and the Republicans for being too inexperienced. Might make a good vice-president nominee.

Edwards: This race is a win win for him. He will either be chosen as the nominee, or the vice presidential candidate again. I predict that Edwards will emerge as the candidate that relates the most to voters, frames the issues the best, and will feel like the safe choice over Obama and Hillary who are either inexperienced or too polarizing. Plus he's the most attractive one in the entire field of candidates.

McCain markets himself as a moderate candidate. If he can make that work he has a great shot, but if democrats grow a backbone and attack his ultra conservative voting record he could be in trouble.

Guliani has too many affairs and scandals, too liberal to energize the republican base.

Romney is handsome, but a morman and will not energize the right-wing base partly for that reason. The democrats need to expose his flip flopping on social issues and continue to hammer him on it.

Although he waffled and did NOT look like a leader when he answeered the marriage question the other day, Edwards looks like the leader of the pack. Edwards/Obama ??

January 07, 2007 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Romney has one core principle, and that's an outsized sense of entitlement. What he believes is that he should be given power, and that's it. Other than that, everything is up for grabs.

January 09, 2007 8:05 PM  

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