Monday, May 21, 2007

How We Choose Our President

Newt Gingrich has some choice words about the way we Americans choose our president (hat tip to NRO's John Hood):

"We have shrunk our political process to this pathetic dance in which people spend an entire year raising money in order to offer nonanswers, so they can memorize what their consultants and focus groups said would work."
"This idea of demeaning the presidency by reducing it to being a game show contest ... is wrong for America, and I would never participate in it."
As much as I love covering the presidential election, I find it is easy at times to get frustrated with the horse-race nature of the process. It's not just the "game-show"-like nature of the debates. It seems that the nominations and the election are decided by more by factors like good looks, likability, and the ability to convincingly spit out thirty-second sound-bites than by qualities like knowledge, competence, and the ability to actually grasp a complicated idea. Are the factors that we use to choose a president distinctly unrelated to the factors that would actually make someone a good president? Or are they the same? I am reminded of a post by Ross Douthat on presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson:
When the Fred Thompson boomlet started up, I batted around an idea for a piece called "The Wrong Thompson," or something like that, all about how Tommy and not Fred ought to be the dark horse candidate for the GOP nomination. After watching the former Wisconsin Governor in two debates, though, it's clear that making the case for Tommy Thompson is rather like making the case that the town meeting and direct democracy ought to take over all the federal government's functions because you get better governance that way; it's an idea that has merit in the abstract, but not in the world we actually inhabit. In an era without television, Tommy Thompson might have been a fine Presidential candidate and as effective a Chief Executive as he was a governor in Wisconsin. But in a world in which a national politician's effectiveness - his ability to rally support for his agenda, in particular - depends on his ability to communicate through mass media, a Thompson Presidency would be an epic disaster.
Have you noticed that almost all female music stars these days are extremely attractive? If you want to be a star, it certainly helps to be a good singer, but that's not a requirement. Being hot is. Looks are more important than talent. In presidential elections, it certainly helps to be qualified, but that's not a requirement. Being likable is. Charisma is more important than talent.

I'd write more, but I've got to go. It's time to put on some Christina Aguilera and read another article about John Edwards' hair cut.

1 comment:

Newt Gingrich said...

We are UGA students and have a newt gingrich blog. Check it out and feel free to comment. The class ends on tuesday so hurry and don't forget to comment good or bad.