Here’s what enables you to succeed — that is, to survive — as a presidential nominee in the early going:
- Ability to create striking soundbites in debates and other forums with no regard for whether they are factually inaccurate.
- Quick wit in criticizing other people on a stage.
- Looking good in a suit.
- Braggadocio regarding how you’ll either “talk tough to,” bomb, or snub leaders of other nations and movements.
- Ability to generate simulated off-the-cuff answers that have nothing to do with the question asked.
- Willingness to take money from billionaires knowing that they will demand special treatment from a future president. (Alternatively, being a billionaire with no loyalty other than to one’s self.)
- Ability to win over ignorant people through advertising, sound bites, and coverage of outrageous statements, thus generating poll results that indicate “electability.”
- Blind loyalty to a set of party principles dictated by the most extreme elements of one’s party.
- Expressed intention to ignore rulings of courts, constitutional amendments, and other elements of the legal system at odds with one’s beliefs.
- Statements about future plans that completely ignore the cost of those programs.
- Promising that you would be completely unwilling to compromise with those with opposing viewpoints.
- Stamina combined with the ability to change direction multiple times per day in response to media-created “issues.”
Here’s what it takes to actually govern this country as its chief executive:
- Ability to hire smart people and take advantage of their expertise.
- Ability to manage a vast federal bureaucracy with millions of employees.
- Understanding and acting on actual facts.
- Ability to lead people with opposing viewpoints to a productive compromise.
- Willingness to work with world leaders, including those who threaten us.
- Operating within the rule of law in a system that involves judicial and legislative powers, rather than as an unopposed dictator.
- Recognition that use of military force often leads in the long term to creating a worse situation than the original problem you were trying to solve.
- Focusing on an actual budget that balances priorities, costs, and taxes.
- Ability to explain to the American public that difficult problems require compromise solutions and forbearance, not simplistic pronouncements.
- Stamina, combined with the ability to concentrate on actual issues long enough to make actual progress.
Is our current process going to get us the person we need? Does anybody other than me see the problem here?
Photo: Chris Carlson, AP.