I've railed often, mostly during the 2008 presidential election season, against that elusive quality referred to in the media as "electability". It propped up such terrible, in my opinion, candidates as Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and especially Fred Thompson. It kept thoroughly competent candidates, such as Mitt Romney, from capturing the hearts of the voters. This election was practically tailor-made for Romney to win, I argued on every blog post I could find, but his "robotic" demeanor and, yes, his Mormonism, made him entirely too "unelectable" for most people.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my father during the Clinton impeachment hearings, about how people probably expect too much of a president. In England, for example, the Prime Minister runs the government but the monarch leads the people. In the United States of America, though, our figurehead is also our chief executive. We have had competent administrators, executives, and legislators passed over in favor of men and women who appeal to our emotions, our feelings, and our basest urges. If we did it differently, then perhaps we would have both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama leading the country, one as administrator, the other as Speechgiver-in-Chief.
When it comes to leadership, though, a country needs a man or woman who can inspire it. Last week, Newsweek ran an article that posited perhaps President Obama could "talk us" out of recession. Granted, confidence is something Americans need if we're to regain our place as a leader in world economics and finance. However, leadership also requires competence. We need a president who understands economic policy, who ideally has had experience in implementing it, and who understands the world market as well as our own.
Mitt Romney fits that bill. He would have been an outstanding president to have in this time. But, because he was unable to win the hearts of the voters, we are left with a president who, every time he proposes a new economic proposal, creates a dip in the market. So far, the president lacks both competence and "that elusive quality".
If you ask me, then I say it's time we stopped looking for leaders who inspire us and start electing leaders who can lead us.
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