reply to post by NovusOrdoMundi
What I'm getting at is the extreme difficulty that a reformer would face as president.
I begin with the premise that the qualities to look for in a president can be broadly defined under two categories: Leadership/Management strengths,
and Policy/Ideology strengths.
The first type:
Some candidates come in with a genius for organization and management, and they surround themselves with people who are brilliant in particular
fields- the arrangement becomes that the cabinet generates good policy and the president spearheads the process of realizing that policy.
Many such candidates are generals.
The Great Ones
George Washington and John F Kennedy did well because they had this quality.
Franklin Pierce (a direct ancestor of G-Dub, on his mom's side) was a uniter and a divider- his was the only cabinet in history
to stay intact for a whole term, even though they were not ideologically unified. Like Dubya, he was elected because people wanted to have a beer with
him (unlike dubya, he never denied his love of beer). Unfortunately, people later found out that they hated his guts because he was pro slavery and
was considering taking Cuba by force. The moral of the story is that you can't ignore ideology because the candidate seems to be a good leader.
Wesley Clark would probably be this kind of president. So would Rudy Guilliani. That's not to say they'd be as
successful as Washington or Kennedy though- just predominately reliant on the same broad attributes.
Didn't have it
Lacking this quality was a detriment to Lincoln- it made the search for the right general to defeat Lee a long one (for a while
Lincoln was studying military history and considering personally taking command of the Army of the Potomac). Lincoln's inability to centrally control
his own administration and fill it with the right kind of people also caused his vision of reconstruction to die with him.
The second type:
Experts and Idealists
Other candidates come in with a conviction of what the right policies are, and they need to surround themselves with people who can help them get it
done. The President devises policy and the battle to implement it is somewhat annonymous, occuring largely behind closed doors.
The Great Ones
Lincoln was great because he possessed this quality but faced great challenges along the way. Franklin Roosevelt is most
noteworthy for this as well, and his administration might not have been quite what it was if not for Eleanor's help, which provided more of the first
quality. It is typical for this type to be more easily described as "great" than "successful", because they often represent the beginning of
endeavors that may take decades to complete.
Carter was a rare instance of a president of this type who had very little charisma and an often-negative message, and it cost him
dearly. President Jefferson's Embargo Act could also be interpreted as stemming from ideology- an agrarian southern president not wanting to risk a
potentially losing war for the sake of northern business interests. I prefer the Jefferson who presided over the First Barbary War- sometimes a
president has to accept a course of action not suggested by his own beliefs because of what is at stake.
G-Dub was balanced as a candiate but as a president was decidedly of this type. He had that Pierce mojo, but also an undeniable ideological bent
during his first campaign. Once in office though, he was all ideology and his charm started to wear off. He has ended up following his handlers into
some real blunders because of it, and I really don't think he meant for it to be this way. If only he were a more effective leader- more balanced
between ideology and management ability, he might have found people who could make his ideas work a little better than they have.
Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are definately this kind of candidate, as are Obama and Edwards. McCain and Clinton are more
balanced but lean in this direction. I think Bill further stabilizes this side of Hillary.
Didn't Have it
A LOT of politicians don't have this. William Henry Harrison is the laughable extreme- he was only there to babysit the politicians because he was
electable, and in proving his machismo during his innaugural address he contracted a fatal case of pnuemonia.
So us suppose that Ron Paul is elected. He will be of the second type. That is dangerous territory for someone who wants to make serious changes,
unless he also has a healthy dose of the first quality. He will desperately need people who can make his ideas happen.
The man definately has a handle on what he wants to accomplish, no problem there. Whether his views are right or wrong, there is no arguing that he
understands his goals and what he will need to do. But where is he going to find qualified people who have the ability and the desire to help him
achieve his goals?
He runs a severe risk of ending up in fights with his own administration, which is something less reform-oriented candidates of his type don't have
to worry about and that more experienced and better connected candidates of his type can overcome better.
I am worried about a Ron Paul administration having a substandard justice department if can't find qualified people who will support his goals, or
worse yet, about a Ron Paul administration facing subversion within the DOJ which might weaken him against a hostile congress or even result in the
people who are supposed to be advancing his initiatives purposefully losing battles for him.
I am similarly worried about disloyalty in the DOD and DOHS. President Paul, if such a creature came to exist, could very easily be rocked by an
Iran-Contra style scandal because of disloyal underlings trying to carry out their own foreign policy behind his back.
So what I'm saying in way too many words is that I'd like to see a guy like Ron Paul go where he can gain experience in the art of coordinating a
team of like-minded people to get things done, and while he's at it cultivate people who share his values and have not been corrupted by politics
into a qualfied staff before he goes into an office where he's going to need to rely on other people to help him get things done.
Remember, Lincoln, probably the greatest president to fall under the same type as Paul would, was by no means at the head of his movement. The time
wasn't right for him until after the split of the whig party and a series of unsuccessful attempts. There has to be a battle for the soul of the
Republican Party- True Conservatives versus the heavy-spending hawks and religious fundies- before it is time for a Ron Paul, because that battle is
going to develop both a political base for Ron Paul and the political allies he needs as well as give important experience to the kind of people Paul
will need on his side.
Sorry for being so verbose, I at least hope I've made my point. Not my best day for posting.