Thursday, February 19, 2004

The fall of Howard Dean

NYT, Jon Margolis - Howard’s End
In Vermont, Dr. Dean was never a very good politician. He was quite a good governor. He was a prudent steward of the state's finances. He expanded social services while reducing taxes. During the debate over civil unions in 2000, he not only kept his word but he also kept his cool.

On the campaign trail, though, Dr. Dean was a dud. Here was a man with neither a thirst for the political jugular nor a sense of timing.

Clinton was a very able President, a tremendous politician, and a flawed human being. Roosevelt and Kennedy were rather similar. Washington was a weak campaigner, but never had to campaign. Lincoln had it all. Churchill, despite his tremendous oratorical skills, was (I think!) weak on the campaign trail.

I don't agree with Mr Margolis that Howard Dean was a poor politician. I think to be a an effective governor, which he was, one has to be skilled in many aspects of politics. He was, however, a very weak entertainer. He was not strong in debate. He couldn't manage an attack. He lacked the skills that lawyers learn. He was not a campaigner.

It is a cliche that the very best person to be president would never run, and were they to be forced to run they would never have the campaign skills. There's some truth to that. We're stuck with entertainers.

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