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The Incredible Shrinking Candidates

In 1992, Time magazine ran a cover story on George H.W. Bush titled the "Incredible Shrinking President." Obviously, this was not meant to be complimentary towards George the 1st. The gist was that H.W. Bush had lost the faith of those he was supposed to be leading, and thus was rendered powerless to lead:
He's had such a bad spell for so long that it's hard for people to believe he could do anything right. By now, when George Bush talks, a lot of people just turn down the volume.

I fear the same shrinkage is happening to our current Presidential candidates. In light of the economic issues that the country is facing, both Obama and McCain seem, well, small. When questioned about the recent failures of Wall Street, which seem to have no end, the candidates resort to the same ridiculous platitudes: "we need better regulation"; "we need to wipe out corruption and greed." Gee, thanks. No passion, no forcefulness, no sign that they even have a clue.

Listening to them, I get zero confidence that they even understand the problem, much less are in any position to come up with a solution. By the way, I'm not advocating that they give a nuanced discussion of securitized obligation, but they need to appear knowledgeable and confident. In other words, appear like they're in charge.

The job of a leader is to instill confidence and optimism in those who he leads. Take them to places they wouldn't otherwise think of going. Win over the voters hearts and minds, and they'll follow a leader anywhere. Bill Clinton was a master of this. When he was in office, no matter how many Paula Jones', Monica Lewinsky's or Ken Starr's popped up, people felt like the ship was being steered properly.

Same with Ronald Reagan. No matter how many missiles the Russians had aimed right at us, all was well. The gipper was in charge. Clinton and Reagan were guys that actually rose in the face of problems and made the problems look small. Leaders do that.

Either McCain or Obama is going to be the next President of the United States. I hope before then, one figures out a way to rise to the occasion. It's not only the best way to win the election, its the only way they'll be successful in governing.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2008 11:57 AM.

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