Friday, January 19, 2007

The Democratic Executive in the 21st Century: a blueprint

Occaisioned by a piece in Commentary by Joshua Muravchik on Carter.

Carter and Clinton: the models.

Two very different men on the surface, yet their similarities point us in the direction of what a successful Democratic nominee would look like. Their main shared traits seem to be:

1. Massive intellectual capacity - as far as IQ goes, both of these men are generally considered to be among the smartest to hold the office of president.

2. The lack of a solid core - this is a little more troublesome, but both men seem to lack a solid set of values, picking and choosing causes based not so much on their merits but rather on their appearance to others. The Muravchik piece and other biographies of Carter are filled with anecdotes where seemingly fundamental policy choices and campaign platforms are arrived at through a calculating, Machiavellian process. Clinton's similar methodology has been perhaps better documented, but the disconnect between public and private faces is very pronounced in both men.

3. An obsession with a historical legacy as something to be cultivated after leaving office, usually by choosing statesmanly causes that, as above, seem calculated rather than genuine.

4. Enigmatic and Self-Obsessed Personalities - this is a little vague and perhaps included in the traits above, but neither man really gives you the impression that you fully connect with what makes them tick. Both men have the ability in the moment to connect to people on a personal level, but this can be seen in retrospect as a skill rather than an inward trait.

It could be said that these are vague observations that are common to many ambitious men, not just politicians. But if Carter and Clinton are compared with their Republican counterparts (Reagan, the Bushes, and Ford) these men seem opaque, calculating and self-serving.

I would argue that their lack of a "center" and desire to disguise their private motivations are a almosta Party template (cemented by both men's unquestioned success) that are common to Kerry and Gore, but these unsuccessful candidates lacked either the intelligence or personal charisma to complete the picture and connect to voters.

Well that's as much of a thought piece as I'm good for on a Friday. Have a great weekend!

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