Monday, May 02, 2005

Senate Quicksand

The Senate, of course, is a deathtrap for presidential ambition in the current atmosphere. It has tons of negatives -- you make a lot of enemies, you need to compromise so you can be flip-flopped, there are so many votes that one can always find some nasty piece of legislature to hang around your neck, it reeks of professional politician "them"-ness, and most importantly ... you never DO anything.

What? That's not true, Senators vote on a million bills, and introduce legislation, and back .. blah. blah. blah. What did YOU do, Senator? Did you get more armor for the troops? Did you revamp the educational system? Well, maybe you and nine other guys did that and now it's off for approval by the President, but saying you "voted for" something isn't the same as you "did" it. You take the heat for bad voters, and get no credit for victories in the public eye. You do a lot of ... government stuff. Committees. Wow.

This is why governors (and mayors) do so well in presidential politics. Governors can claim they ran their state. Was there a state legislature, etc? Sure, but ads for Governors can read "HE blanced the state budget", or "HE installed universal health care" or "HE got more money for schools and cops." This is why Eliot Spitzer's running roughshod over Pataki right now. His narrative is: "Spitzer puts rich fucks in jail." Christ, he's almost a superhero with that story, never mind a candidate. He's the class war equivalent of Batman. (Oh, and don't miss lecture 10 in the series: "Class war, class war, class war, it's all about the class war, that's why they squeal and accuse you of using it, because it's your most potent weapon, it's the class war, idiot, oh hey look at my shiny class war.")

2008, progressives should lean heavily on a governor or outsider. Just my opinion. But that's what the blog's for.

Next: Less political theory, and more on effective speechwriting. Or, "In the name of Christ, STOP TALKING."


Bill Cunningham said...

I'm just a Joe with a "cheeseburger and fries" mentality about a lot of things. That said, I know what I like. I like people who accomplish things - they set a goal, achieve it , and move ahead.

But unfortunately, too many politicians are dreamers -- "This is how it ought to be" -- when they should be the person saying, "This is the goal and this is how we're going to get there."

For any person entering politics or business I highly recommend THE GOAL by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. A "business novel" that illuminates how mindless policy stifles true and worthwhile progress and change, while teaching how one can learn to identify those bottlenecks to progress and work around them in a team fashion.

Must reading for the past 20 years.

I'm going back to my cheeseburger now...

Kevin Hayden said...

Sure, executive positions require solo decisionmaking. How many Congresscritters made it to the Oval Office since the Great Depression?

Let's see... LBJ, though he initially got there via default. Nixon. Ford, by default again. Abu Bush, though he had to first be Veep for an extremely popular prez.

In fact, all the exceptions became Veeps first.

It's part of the reason I backed Howard Dean and shy from Hilary in 2008. Mark Warner and Bill Richardson remain the leading contenders for exactly the reasons you cite.

Rogers said...

The General or Bill Richardson are both my picks.

Anonymous said...

Re Congresspersons becoming president.

Remember JFK? -- and he didn't serve his apprentiship as VEEP either.

Rogers said...

Good point. He was also a best-selling author, war-hero, and dominated the new media in a way his opponent (Nixon) was completely flummoxed by.

Note also I say "in the current atmosphere". I'm not saying it's fair, and it may certainly be possible for a Senator to prevail, but I'm saying it's an additional 25 degrees to the uphill slope. In a world where the media's already at 45 degrees, and political ignorance adds another 10.

Stephen Frug said...

This series rocks. Please keep it up!!


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