February 29, 2008

All the President Midgets

photo_contact.jpg In my email this evening, a retired top executive from a major multi-national corporation looks at the laboring of our political mountain that has, again, brought forth midgets. He is not amused.

What a dreadful situation. The whole process has perplexed me for years.

We often hear someone put forth the premise that the U.S. President is "the most powerful person in the world" (However arrogant that may be.). Yet we require very little of the actual candidates for the office.

No major corporation would hire most of the individuals that have run for the U.S. presidency in my lifetime - at least not before they became President.

On top of that, our political dialogue is not about the kind of person a candidate should be, and the basket of traits that a candidate should possess, but focuses on all manner of irrelevant crap.

How about an I.Q. estimate for starters?

How about their success "outside" the political sphere?

What about some basis for determining the moral character of the candidates not tied to idle gossip?

What is their global view? What is their knowledge of other other languages and cultures? How profound is their grasp of history? Of Geography? Economics? Technology?

What would seem to be a magnet for the best and brightest is instead something they avoid like the plague - for understandable reasons, of course.

Still, it drives me crazy. I would love to see a meaningful national debate on the qualities America should demand of it's leaders.

I guess our news organizations must not think it's very important.

Posted by Vanderleun at February 29, 2008 10:52 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

This is a very bright man.

I know this for certain, because agreement (with me) is synonymous with intelligence, and every single word he wrote might as well have come straight out of my pen/keyboard.

In an age of profusive comfort, the first casualty is the ability to understand we live in an age of profusive comfort. Right after that is the ability to choose things. We can't do it. We just go through the motions of choosing, gravitating toward whoever's voice box gives off the snappiest sound bites and the most soothing dulcet tones. Brain-damaged baby monkeys can do what we do now.

Posted by: Morgan K Freeberg at February 29, 2008 11:19 PM

Intelligence is obviously a requirement of a President.

Yet...I do believe that there are many high IQ types in academia that I wouldn't trust to wash my car.

You know...the gray pony tailed men who write 1400 page dissertations on how white men who grow beards are racist and sexist because women and Native Americans can't grow them very well.

A brilliant thinker like Susan Sontag probably couldn't manage the night shift at a Denny's.

Intelligence, yes, of course! But a leader needs something else. Not just experience or political gamesmanship...but an intangible quality that I find sadly lacking in November's offerings.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at March 1, 2008 3:07 AM

The logical conclusion is that mass democracy ain't worth much.

What did Mencken say--something about no one losing money because he underestimated the intelligence of the American people. Or as old PT put it, "There's one born every minute."

Of course, the one CEO type in the race--Mitt Headroom--tanked.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man at March 1, 2008 6:43 AM


I agree with your cautions on relying solely on intelligence. Today’s crop of teachers and the sad excuse for graduates they turn out are a sure indicator this would be a folly. But would not such questions and debate by its nature weed out the incompetents? And certainly, the campaign trail would give us an idea how they function under pressure and controversy.

I think mostly, though, the thought of moving the debate to real issues of capability, thought and substantive issues and away from "...what will you give me during your four years,” is a definite move in the right direction.

It's yards better than the current process, fostered in my opinion by the advent of 24-hour news coverage. These talking heads need to find something to put on the air when there is nothing else happening, and then need to create false controversy to get the ratings up--which is what moves us away from what really matters. Who gives a rats ass that McCain was born in Panama? Yet how many hours were devoted to this non-information?

Posted by: MarkH at March 1, 2008 7:23 AM

"No major corporation would hire most of the individuals that have run for the U.S. presidency in my lifetime - at least not before they became President."

The merry-go-round of CEOs that have tanked one corporation only To ride their golden parachutes to yet another failed venture (Fiorina, Loose, et al.)
would seem to indicate that the Suits haven't done such a bang-up job either in determining leadership ability.

Posted by: stu gottz at March 1, 2008 8:04 AM

While I agree for the most part, we've got to remember that executive ability and political ability aren't necessarily the same. Most top execs have some political skill, but performance is more important. Likewise, most top pols have at least some executive skill, but getting elected is more important. Our very best Presidents had both.

Part of the problem might be, too, that you've got to have an unusual personality to want to be President. It's an abnormal ambition--think Fred Thompson. Normal people don't subject themselves to the craziness of a Presidential campaign.

So I guess it's not surprising that we end up with a pretty odd mix sometimes. But sometimes we get a Lincoln or a Reagan.

Posted by: Old Dad at March 1, 2008 8:38 AM

Depth of field?

Measure in inches and fractions thereof, I am afraid.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 1, 2008 8:41 AM

IQ: GWB and J F'n K estimated at about 140.
Success: GWB Harvard business school, Owned/managed a business.
Character: GWB: Worked through addiction, adopted (whatever you may think of it) a specific life philosophy as an adult.

Etc., etc.

And for all that, I know at least 3 people personally who would make better presidents than anyone in that office since 1992.

Posted by: lpdbw at March 1, 2008 8:44 AM