Friday, January 11, 2008

Rhetorical Question

After seven years of a President whose loquacious stylings remind one of a sculptor welding a jack hammer, I think that Americans are craving a chief executive who can turn a pleasant phrase. Therefore it is no surprise that Barak Obama and Mike Huckabee appear to be currently in the lead in the race to the White House. Huckabee, a Baptist minister, has leaned on his pulpit experience to charm the primary voters and Obama seems to be a congenital orator. Most of the other candidates are wooden in comparison … notably Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton (pre tears) …and, therefore, they have suffered at the polls. But Romney seemed to be much more communicative when he prepared and gave his talk on his Mormon religion. In fact, he was downright eloquent. But, on the stump or in a debate, he is far less spontaneous. Hillary, in most of her public speaking, seems rehearsed to the point of robotics. It was because of this perceived handler over-programming that her short lachrymose lament freshened her image enough for the women of the Granite State to change their intended votes.

The real problem is -- good word-smithing is not necessarily a prerequisite for good governing. In fact, it is a little Pollyannaish that we Americans still want to have both … witness our reverence of those presidents who did have both -- Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and FDR. Also, when there is a choice between good speechifying and managerial talents, we seem to opt for the former – witness Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson. And there were those presidents who were good managers without oratorical powers – witness Nixon and Eisenhower. The trick is – not to confuse the two. So my question is: if we can’t have both, why would we rather have someone who speaks well extemporaneously over one who, after consultation and deliberation, more often comes up with the right answer?

(Admittedly, George W. Bush isn’t a particularly good manager either. He has chosen and kept many mediocre acolytes around him. So why do I still support him and his party? Primarily, because he has taken and kept the offensive in the war against terrorism. He also eventually chose two very good Supreme Court justices. And he has (quixotically) attempted to fix the Social Security entitlement’s conundrum. And lastly, none of his appointees have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. I can’t see a current Democrat doing any of these things. I realize Bush will never be thought a great president, but then again he won’t be the worst by a country mile. Sorry, Madeline Albright.)

No comments: