Thursday, February 19, 2004

Do senators make good presidents?

This column by David Broder tries to make a point, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what is is.

For starters, he leads the list of "The tickets . . . formed by men who had bonded in their Senate years," with Kennedy and Johnson. Bonded? They hated each other!

OK, so senators don't have a lot of executive experience, but there have been a lot of ex-governors who failed, either as candidates for president or as presidents after they got elected. One of the worst problems of the early state primaries is that they allow obscure governors to come in and seize the nomination without being properly vetted by anybody who knows what it takes to be a good president. (Have you ever noticed how Democrats don't seem to have trouble raising money, even when they have no experience either in Washington or as executives?) That's where I thought they were headed again until Dean imploded like a red giant star.

Of course, senators haven't proven to be great choices, either, at least in my lifetime. Kennedy had Clinton problems. Johnson and Nixon both self-destructed. Mondale lost. Gore and Lieberman came up short, and neither has gotten anywhere since.

Broder winds up with this:
The conventional wisdom is that this election, like most involving an incumbent, will largely be a referendum on George Bush's record in office. To the extent that is true, either Kerry or Edwards is well equipped for the coming battle. Both have been engaged in a constant critique over the past three-plus years of Bush's actions, policies and appointments.

Edwards has led some of the Judiciary Committee's cross-examinations of men and women Bush wanted to place on the federal bench. Kerry has fought the administration on energy legislation and many other fronts.
Is this what the election has come to? Don't we want to think about what kind of heads of the executive branch these guys would make? Broder seems to think so:
But at some point in most elections, undecided voters are inclined to ask, "So what have you done that tells me you could handle the presidency?"

That's when senators often have a hard time answering. The Senate is a remarkable place, but it's not the real world. And voters know it.
Let's hope so.


Post a Comment

<< Home