It's starting already....The run for the nominations. Today's news and views in both the traditional press and the blogosphere is full of little tidbit. For instance:
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill (cat-killer) Frist has announced that he will not seek the Republican Nomination.
Senator Joseph Biden (D) says he's still looking.
Retired General Wesley Clark says he hasn't "ruled it out".
Senator Barack Obama says he's exploring the possibilities.
Giuliani (spelling incorrect?) is listed as a Republican front-runner.
It brings back a lot of pre-2004 memories and causes me to think about an important difference in candidates. I offer it for your consideration.
What I think we are observing is a flock of people who are actively SEEKING OR PURSUING the Office of President. (before you post a "Well...DUH...." comment, hear me out.) It is not a case where The Presidency is pursuing them....that is, none and I do mean NONE of the present candidates have led such a life of service to the country that they seem to be natural and logical choices for the office of the Presidency. Yes, I will elaborate.
Teddy Roosevelt was a natural for his times because of his strong background as a reformer (remember he was Police Commissioner in New York too) Franklin D. Roosevelt was a natural choice because he showed he could lead at a time when America was in desperate need of leadership. Eisenhower was a logical and almost unanimous choice because of his demostrated leadership abilities and was actively sought as a candidate by both Republicans and Democrats.
Let me make this clearer by using Eisenhower as an example. He was a Four-Star General who put together the Allied Victory in Europe ending WWII. He is most known for his planning of the invasion at Normandy but his work and strategic planning in the years leading up to the invasion were brilliant. The important point is that he didn't run that war with a press agent or focus group telling him what to do to enhance his image for a distant run for the Presidency. He ran the war in Europe as a professional military man and in doing so demonstrated strength of character and leadership that would be unmistakable years later. It was, in fact because of his character and leadership that he was so actively sought for the nomination by both parties.
Contrast this with the made-for-TV-and-prime-time candidacy we are being exposed to now.
Issues and topics are carefully chosen to appeal to a "demographic" and images are masterfully sculpted to meet the desires of focus groups. As Teddy White told us in his first edition of The Making of a President, 1960, the candidate is packaged, labeled and sold to us in much the same fashion we purchase a jar of peanut butter.
Does it make a difference? Does it really matter if we choose someone who has chosen to run as a result of a lifetime of demonstrated character and achievement or someone who has been carefully groomed and sculpted for our consumption?
You're damned right it does!
For example, see this from today's Digby (Hullaballoo)
This all proves that it really matters who the president is. It matters a lot. We will be electing a new administration in less than two years and it's important to try to learn from this, beyond ideology, beyond partisanship. The Bush administration debacle is not, after all, confined to Iraq. There was Katrina as well, along with untold numbers of domestic, economic and foreign policy crises that have been put into motion and haven't yet come to fruition. The malfeasance wasn't confined to Don Rumsfeld or Doug Feith.
George W. Bush is perhaps the best example of a pre-packaged President we will ever see. One of our (Democrats ) major complaints about him (okay, it was a complaint about Reagan too) was that he was an "empty suit" and it turned out to be tragically true.
In the next 18 months or so, we, the Wood County Dems, will start fractioning off to support different candidates for our party's nomination for the Presidency....consider these things as you choose...
it does make a difference.